Dressed in a black suit, very classy, with a bow tie, he just comes from a TV show he made for Tele Monte-Carlo, a French television, where he disguised himself in Mrs Doubtfire, his favourite character. Alain Robin is a doppelganger of the American actor Robin Williams. The official one. “The only one all over the world”, he says proudly.
Now he is 53 but the comedian has been playing the role of another person since 1994. It was several months he had in mind to become Robin William’s double, but he really decided it when the film Mrs Doubtfire came out that year. “Everybody was talking about this movie and I went to a cinema in Paris to see it. It was cold. I went there alone. In the path leading to the cinema, I heard people say "It’s Robin Williams". They asked me if it was true and I answered in a poor English "Yes, I am, but don’t say anything, I’m here incognito".” He repeated this scene a second time. Other people had same reactions. He knew on that moment he got a new job.
When he describes his profession, Alain Robin – not his real name, but the way he wants to be called – can not stop telling stories linked to his resemblance with the international star. One day in Los Angeles, California, a few weeks after the film Jumanji was shot, he entered the studios of Paramount with a friend. Everybody thought he was the real one. “Technicians who had worked on that movie couldn’t believe me when I told them I was the French doppelganger of the actor. They only answered "It is bullshit. Stop making fun of us, Robin."”
Alain Robin lives in the 18th district of Paris, somewhere between Montmartre and Pigalle. The door of his flat hangs a panel where the inscription “Entrée des artistes” is written. His role is to play Robin William’s double but he defines himself as a comedian. He has been doing this job for more than 25 years. Alain first worked as a cooker and a seller.
He confesses that he sometimes had problems to play this role. “In the first times, I wasn’t myself anymore. I was speaking only about him, about Robin. I was always trying to look exactly like him”. When he talks about himself, Alain Robin keeps sitting quietly on the couch, but he gets up as soon as he tells another doppelganger story, with large gestures around him in the air, raising his voice. Even during an interview, Alain Robin remains a comedian.
“People often ask me how I feel being a double. I do not have to compel myself. For me, it is a game I play. But it is very important to make the difference between the person I am, Alain, the person I imitate, Robin Williams and Mrs Doubtfire, the character I play as an actor.” He says these words as if he had pronounced them a million times. Alain Robin is used to meet people that are very curious about his singular way to make a living.
He plays his show – which recalls the different roles and movies of Robin William’s career – in theatres, bars, restaurants and schools, even in retirement houses. He also made commercials and played in movies – Podium for example, directed by Yann Moix, telling the story of a doppelganger of Claude François, a famous French singer from the seventies. He asserts that he does not have any problem to find contracts because he is now “well-known” in the show-business. He is very friend with the doppelgangers of Bruce Willis, Whoopi Goldberg and Sean Connery. “We call ourselves Robin, Bruce, Whoopi or Sean, never by our real names”, he says with a little smile.
Alain admits he is a little afraid when he thinks about his future. “I really care about tomorrow. It will be a new day and I can not rest like lots of famous actors and actresses. I worry about Robin’s career. I check every month on the internet if there are rumours about him. I hope he will soon make Mrs Doubtfire 2.”