It was 12:00 pm in Australia when I heard the news about the tragic passing of Robin Williams. While I have cried over the loss of many legendary actors, such as Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine… I can honestly say that the death of Robin Williams was the first to ever make me cry upon hearing the news. The grief that struck me was instantaneous.
Of all the actors that have passed away, why did the loss of Williams affect me the most? It’s simple, really. I grew up watching this man. Watching his films was one of the greatest joys of my life. As a child, he made me laugh until my sides hurt. As an adult, I saw that he injected such depth and soul into each and every character he played.
As my final goodbye to this legendary funny-man, I would like to share with you all my personal journey of experiencing Robin’s films. I will only speak of the ones I have seen, in order of when I saw them.
Williams voiced Genie.
Aladdin was first film I ever saw with Williams. This would be the start of the wonderful journey he took me on through cinema. It wasn’t hard to tell that a lot of the things Genie said were improvised by Williams himself. I don’t think any Disney character has ever made me laugh so hard. This movie wouldn’t have been half as great without the fantastic style of Robin Williams.
Williams played Alan Parrish
If I created my ‘Top 10 Favourite Children’s Movies’ list, there is no doubt in my mind that Jumanji would be on it. While critics didn’t look favourably on the film, as a child, it just blew my mind. This movie is a fine example of Willams mixing real human emotion in with his fantastic comedic style. I’ve seen him in many movies, yet I will always identify him as Alan Parrish from Jumanji.
Williams played Professor Phillip Brainard
See a pattern here? Pretty much all of my early encounters with Williams‘ films were his great children’s movies. Flubber to me is one of his most memorable films. It was one of my family’s favourite films, and one that people seldom talk about nowadays. He brought the perfect amount of eccentricity and humour to the role, making it simply unforgettable.
Williams played Peter Banning, AKA ‘Peter Pan.’
I think Hook might just be one of the most unforgettable films Robin Williams ever made. While it did shock me at first to see Peter Pan so old, it didn’t detract from the film’s overall enjoyability. In fact, I adored this film. I must have seen it over a dozen times. I would call his casting in this film “unorthodox”, yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a great film, and one of his best roles.
Patch Adams (1998)
Williams played Patch.
I’ve only ever seen Patch Adams once, so I don’t remember a lot about it. What I do remember are two very heart-warming scenes. The first, that is so vivid in my memory, is when Patch filled a pool full of noodles for an old lady who said she always wanted to swim in noodles. The other unforgettable scene was when Patch put on that big red nose and made that little girl with cancer smile. This is arguably Williams’ greatest achievement in blending light-hearted comedy with heart-felt, emotional drama.
Willams played Dennis Hillard / Mrs. Doubtfire
Most people remember Williams most for his turn as a father who cross-dresses as an old Scottish nanny in Mrs. Doubtfire. This movie had me laughing in tears at times! This is another one of those roles where he really brought the emotional punch into the character. You could tell this man loved his kids. I’ll never forget the reveal of his identity to the children. The vulnerability he showed within his character was nothing short of masterful. Mrs. Doubtfire is a character that no other comedic-actor could have played better.
Williams played Walter Finch
This is another of his films that I’ve seen just once, but have never forgotten. I think this is arguably Williams’ most underrated performance. He played one hell of a villain. It was subtle, it was genius, and it creeped me out so f*cking much. I remember saying, “I can’t believe that’s Robin Williams.” I haven’t seen this film for a long time, but I remember being so thrilled by the cat-and-mouse games Finch used to play with the protagonist in the story. I’m going to watch this one again and re-live the sentiments that I first felt.
Williams voiced Fender
I’m in a small minority of people who think that Robots is one of the greatest animated films ever made. The quality of animation lives up to today’s standards, and the humour had me in stitches so many times. The heart and soul of the film was none other than Robin Williams’ as Fender. The things that character would say, and the way Williams delivered his lines, were just pure comedic gold. A perfect blend of adult and children’s humour. It’s one of my favourite projects that Williams has ever undertaken.
The Birdcage (1996)
Williams played Armand Goldman
I honestly think The Birdcage was the pinnacle of Williams’ career. While he had already proven such versatility in previous roles, it was The Birdcage that showed to the world that this man was truly fearless. He played a gay man that owns a gay nightclub, who is in a relationship with a cross-dressing performer (played by Nathan Lane). The best thing about his performance was the fact that he wasn’t the erratic, comedic centre of the film. It appears that he truly lived that character and felt his every emotion in every scene. He was so damn funny, yet truly masterful at pulling off the realistic and heart-warming drama within this man’s life. I could go on forever about how good he was in this movie. He should have been nominated for an Oscar.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Williams played Sean Maguire
Robin Williams’ performance as therapist Sean Maguire is hands down the greatest performance I have ever seen him give. I’ve seen all the nominated supporting actor performances of 1997, and I can honestly tell you that it was Williams who deserved that Oscar. If there were any film that Williams deserved to win an Oscar for, it was this. That’s why it makes me so emotional to relive that moment when he stood up on that stage and accepted the award. I’ll never forget the monologue he gave when he was sitting on that park bench next to Matt Damon. I re-watched this scene when I heard the news this morning, and shed a tear. It was Robin Williams who made that a truly outstanding film.
I haven’t seen all of Williams’ greatest films. I’ve yet to see the classics, such as Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam, Awakenings, The World According to Garp, and Bicentennial Man.
The funny thing is, I didn’t even have to see all of his most acclaimed works to know that he’s one of the greatest actors of our time. He made me laugh. He made me cry. He brought so many unforgettable characters into my life. I’m so, so glad that I had the privilege of letting Robin Williams into my weird little world.
R.I.P you beautiful man. We’ll never forget you.