I was surprised to learn yesterday that Robin Williams had passed away. I just take for granted certain people being alive. I had even thought about Robin Williams a couple of times not long before his death. I saw him in the movie, The Butler, in which he played President Dwight Eisenhower. I saw a YouTube video of one of his comedy routines. I was even watching the “Prince Ali” scene in Aladdin and thinking to myself that Robin Williams was so awesome as the genie!
To be honest with you, I like Robin Williams’ dramatic acting more than his comedy. His comedy often struck me as silly and over-the-top. But, when it came to his dramatic acting, my response has always been “Wow!” He played a desperately lonely man in One Hour Photo. He was an inspiring and unconventional teacher in Dead Poets Society. He was a brooding therapist who showed tough love in Good Will Hunting. Even the movies Good Morning Vietnam and Patch Adams had a serious side to them.
My favorite Robin Williams movie is Mrs. Doubtfire, in which Robin Williams’ character dressed up as an old English woman to get to spend time with his children as a housekeeper, after he and his wife had divorced. There was plenty of comedy in that, but there was also a serious side to the movie: the Robin Williams character got to interact with his family in a new way, to understand his wife’s point of view, and to offer comfort to someone else who was dealing with the challenging realities facing modern American families.
A while back—-I think it was in 2005—-I watched a movie about Mork and Mindy, the show that made Robin Williams a star. I had to respect Robin Williams for putting himself on the line in that job interview, acting silly, telling the interviewers they may never want to see him again, and then getting the job! The movie was also about Robin Williams’ battle with drugs, especially cocaine: at its end, Robin Williams walks away from drugs. He does not need them, he wants a stable life, and he has a promising future ahead of him, so why ruin it? Robin Williams even after that would struggle with addiction and would try to maintain sobriety. I respect him for that.
R.I.P. Robin Williams.