British singer-songwriter Robbie Williams looks back at his life in a new Netflix documentary series that tracks his journey from a 16-year-old boy band member to a 49-year-old entertainer and father of four.
In Robbie Williams, filmed over several days and set inside his Los Angeles home, the Angels and Rock DJ singer is shown behind-the-scenes footage of himself, shot over several decades, for the first time. Watching the videos on his laptop, often in his bed, Williams shares his observations and emotions.
Williams’ mental health is a running theme of the four-part series, which captures the intensity of his success and sees him opening up about his battles with addiction and self-doubt and the toxic effects of the tabloid culture of the 2000s.
“That was a trauma trip,” Williams said as he attended the launch of the show and a pop-up exhibition in London on Wednesday (Nov 2).
“I’ve just been delving into mental illness and alcoholism and drug addiction. And then I’m watching it, all of those episodes. What is important to me is that I get to control some of the narrative. This is me controlling some of the narrative.”
Williams shot to fame as the youngest member of the ’90s pop group Take That and went on to launch a successful solo career which has seen him topping charts and performing in front of tens of thousands around the world.
The show’s director Joe Pearlman and his team combed through some 30,000 hours of material filmed by camera operators following Williams since his early Take That days.
“I wanted to tell a real story. I think Rob’s story is one of real pain and struggle and inner turmoil. I didn’t want to make something fluffy. I wanted to make something that served Rob, and Rob wanted to tell the truth,” Pearlman said.
Robbie Williams the series starts streaming on Netflix on Nov 8. A pop-up event coinciding with the launch and celebrating Williams’ career is open to public in London’s Covent Garden Nov 2 to 5.