Every time there is a major death in any industry the internet is bombarded in the following days with news posts and features and all sorts of other content that blur the line between legitimacy and exploitation. There have been times where we’ve actively avoided writing anything more than an initial (depressed) announcement, but here is an exception. Robin Williams’s wife, Susan Schneider, gave a statement that read:
I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.
It is with that in mind that we decided to write this.
Let the celebration begin.
I rewatched Hook last night for the first time in a long time. When I was a kid we had Hook on VHS and we must have worn that thing down to nothing by the time we were done with it. The tape may still be sitting under my parent’s television just because it was that cherished. I realized last night that, aside from seeing it in the theater, it is quite possible I hadn’t seen the film in HD and without the sides cut off. I just hadn’t watched it in that long.
What a mistake. The movie is incredible, mostly because of how much childlike wonder it has. It’s just fun to watch. A kind of fun that you don’t get at the cinema that much — an innocent fun. Much of that is thanks to Robin Williams who so easily becomes a giant kid without any sense of shame or sarcasm. He just exudes happiness onto the screen and it takes over the entire film, especially when he’s playing off the wonderful Dustin Hoffman. There’s also something charming about the non-computer generated world it takes place in. Everything is real (a set of course) and it lends an authenticity of imagination to the proceedings that Williams happily flies through with grace and charm. It’s a movie about the wonders of childhood and how not to lose those throughout our lives, and it’s a lesson that Williams taught us constantly.
By the way, I lost it when Pockets pulled Peter’s face back and said, “Oh, there you are.”
Have you ever seen a bad Robin Williams movie? I certainly haven’t. From Jumanji to What Dreams May Come, from Toys to One Hour Photo, from Aladdin to World’s Greatest Dad, Williams proved that he had incredible range, overflowing talent, and unstoppable charisma. Truly a legend in every sense, he will live on in these movies and many, many more.
Like many of you, I grew up with him, and like many of you, I plan to watch have myself a marathon in the imminent future. Robin Williams proved time and time again, he could fly, he could fight, and he could crow.
Rest in peace.
For a long time, I knew Good Will Hunting only as The Reason That Guy from Gigli Had an Oscar (how things have changed…), something that blew my mind but not enough to make me actually see it. But then I heard that Robin Williams was in it, and he wasn’t funny. That was something I wanted to see. Many comedic actors attempt serious roles and fall flat on their faces. But Robin Williams thrived in it, and it made an alternate universe where Robin Williams was a beloved dramatic actor seem oddly plausible. I know it wasn’t his only dramatic role, but it was the one that proved his talent was unclassifiable.
The dialogue Williams spoke in that film wasn’t written by him, but it truly seemed to come from him. He was a brilliant performer, and many of the lessons he taught are as applicable now as ever:
“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”
The Birdcage is an astounding film. Sharp writing, sharp physicality, and light years ahead of its time. It was Nathan Lane at his finest bouncing off Williams in true form. It’s one of those films that you need to see at least once. And Aladdin? Robin Williams gave that film more character than it could ever deserve. Challenging Disney’s animators to capture his enigmatic performance and bring his outlandishness to print, Williams was indeed great without even stepping in front of the camera. We’ll never have a friend like him again.
But there’s soooooo much more! Insomnia, Death to Smoochy, Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, f**king Dead Poets Society, his guest spot in Louie, Jumanji, Flubber, and hell, even Bicentennial Man. Williams was a man with an impeccable track record, so it’s hard to pin down one of my favorites. It’s going to be tough knowing we’re not going to see him anymore, but that doesn’t mean his legacy will fade. Now that he’s gone, it’s our turn to stand on the desks and shout “Oh captain, my captain!” at the top of our lungs. I’m just going to end this with a few of my favorite quotes because I’m starting to break down:
“Work it, own it, sell it!”
“Phenomenal cosmic powers, itty bitty living space.”
“I’m going on safari, motherf**ker! SAFARI!”
“But if there’s love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever. All my love to you, poppet, you’re going to be all right.”