Today, movie lovers around the world are reeling from the news that Robin Williams has died. Since I heard the news, I have been trying to compile a list of Williams’ best performances, and have been completely unable to narrow it down. ALADDIN is in there, of course, and THE BIRDCAGE, INSOMNIA, GOOD WILL HUNTING and DEATH TO SMOOCHY, but how could we leave out THE FISHER KING, MRS DOUBTFIRE, ONE HOUR PHOTO and HOOK? This is the legacy that the great Mr Williams has left behind; fans, journalists and writers around the world struggling to choose their favourite performance, because there are simply too many.
Many of us first became aware of Robin Williams through the TV show MORK & MINDY, and made a note of the actor who played an alien with such beautiful innocence. Williams famously got the role when the casting director asked him to take a seat, and he somehow sat on his head.
As we grew up, Williams seemed to stay the same; childlike at heart with a wicked sense of humour and the ability to ad-lib such amazing comedy that ALADDIN could not be nominated for the Best Screenplay Oscar, since so many of the Genie’s lines were made up on the spot.
Over the years, Robin Williams made us laugh and cry; he terrified us with his supremely creepy role in ONE HOUR PHOTO, had us singing along with ALADDIN and touched our hearts with so many films, including GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM, PATCH ADAMS and DEAD POETS SOCIETY.
It is hard to imagine any other actor being able to play Peter Pan with such innocent wonder as Williams did in HOOK, for anyone else to play a man so devoted to his kids that he dons drag and a female persona to be close to them as he did in MRS. DOUBTFIRE, and most of us wanted to go on a JUMANJI-esque adventure through the jungle with the charismatic actor. Who else could have played a kids’ TV presenter so embittered by being replaced that he framed his successor as a Nazi? Williams did it in DEATH TO SMOOCHY, and he did it with brilliant abandon.
It was not all laughs though, and Williams had a talent for getting under the emotional skin of his characters, as he proved time and again with his roles in INSOMNIA, GOOD WILL HUNTING and THE FISHER KING. Such was the actor’s versatility that he could easily move between comedy and tragedy, while bringing the audience on emotional and often frightening journeys.
More recently, Williams turned back to TV, making a guest appearance on WILFRED, and an almost prophetically poignant cameo in LOUIE, while throwing his weight behind THE CRAZY ONES, which was sadly cancelled earlier this year.
Williams made no secret of the fact that he suffered throughout his life, openly admitting to problems with alcohol and depression. Perhaps it was this eternal struggle with himself and his own search for happiness that gave him such insight into his characters. We may never know for sure, but here at Movies.ie, we know one thing; Robin Williams’ light, talent and comedic whirlwind will truly be missed.
We send our condolences to his family, and leave you with this wonderful scene from GOOD WILL HUNTING, for which Williams won an Academy Award.