Robbie Williams doc: 'Most raw and honest portrayal of a star's life’
"If you've read the papers, if you've watched the interviews, you don't know this man. This is Robbie Williams."
Robbie Williams shot to fame at 16 years old and has had cameras following him around ever since.
With over 30,000 hours of raw footage, Joe Pearlman set out to make a series that truly encapsulated Robbie Williams for who he is. A person.
While it's easy to think celebrities lead effortless lives, with the flashy cars, adoring fans and a career of dreams, it's also very easy to forget that like us they are human beings, something director Joe Pearlman believed was imperative to shine through in the new Robbie Williams documentary.
The self-titled documentary series sees Robbie Williams watch back footage from the age of 16 years old, at times not being able to carry on, with someone sitting beside him as the camera is rolling - director Joe Pearlman.
Prior to filming this documentary, Pearlman received critical acclaim for his documentaries Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts and Lewis Capaldi: How I'm Feeling Now and after, when he received a call to look through the footage of Williams, he jumped "straight in" at the chance.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com ahead of the documentary's release, Joe Pearlman said of the footage: "This was the type of archive that you're privileged ever to receive, never mind received from someone who's still alive. So it kind of felt like this enormous opportunity, and we jumped straight in."
From the very beginning, Williams told Pearlman he wanted to "make something different", and the director wanted to shine a light on who the pop icon really is beyond the headlines and videos people have seen of him over the years.
Describing the documentary as "one of the most raw and honest portrayals of a celebrity's life" to exist, Pearlman was able to sit alongside Williams and truly get to know him.
"I think the ability to sit alongside Rob, and Rob going through it and dealing with this, it is something I never thought I would be able to do on such a scale," he says.
Robbie Williams has been in the limelight for over 30 years, and has faced criticism from the public and media. Pearlman accepted that many people going to watch the documentary may have "preconceived" ideas about self-proclaimed "entertainer", but assured that those ideas will be forgotten about once they watch the series.
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"It's a really important show. And I think that the fans, I think they'll go into this, and you'll get all the things you love about Rob, and all the music and all the funny and all of that, but also another side to him that maybe you didn't quite understand and a quietness," Pearlman explains.
Prior to the documentary's release, Williams spoke with RadioTimes.com and other press, and admitted while the documentary was "traumatic" to film at times, it was great to be able "to be in control of some of the narrative".
He said: "There's a lot about me that a lot of people don't remember but I do in the '90s, where people form their opinion about who and what I was because they were being told who and what I was. And I think this for me as a person just controls some of the narrative."
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While filming the documentary, Williams and Pearlman formed a friendship and are still in touch as the documentary heads for launch.
He told RadioTimes.com that he recently spoke with the singer, who told Pearlman: "This is the first time in my life that people are gonna see me as a human being. That's it."
The director admitted that being able to do that for someone is "enormous".
He said: "For him to feel like he's going to be recognised and respected and seen for who he is and what he went through. That feels really, really important."
Pearlman notes that there is a "contemplativeness" to Williams in this documentary that a lot of people won't be expecting, and promises to show the singer for who he truly is.
"For people who don't know Rob and people who maybe are coming in with preconceived ideas of Rob, get ready to have those preconceived ideas smashed, because this is a different character to anything anyone has ever thought of him.
"If you've read the papers, if you've watched the interviews, if you've seen all that stuff, you don't know this man. This is Robbie Williams."
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