On August 11th, 2014, we lost someone very important. Robin Williams was an innovator, a genius of improvisation, and more importantly a genuine soul. Let’s get one thing straight, folks: I will not be speaking on the how, what and why of his death, but instead celebrating his life and how he helped shape not only my childhood, but the childhood of millions upon millions of others.Why don’t we start where I (and many others) discovered Robin, the 1992 Disney classic Aladdin. A lot of the impersonations were lost on me at the time, but what always stuck with me was the Genie’s energy; By the time he made you laugh with one joke, he was already on his fifth joke. Williams pulled from much of his own persona to breathe life into this character. “Friend Like Me” is still up there as one of the all-time iconic Disney songs and you can tell Williams was having the time of his life in the recording booth. A little trivia fact: Robin Williams recorded up to twenty-three hours of footage for the Genie. I know, I was shocked as well.
The next couple of Williams-centered films will be a who’s-who of 90’s theater: Jumanji, Flubber, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Jack. A few of these might not be on everyone’s top ten lists, but whether the picture was a flop or not, you’ll always remember the performance left by Robin. He had so much impact on the audience that whether he was dressed up like a Scottish nanny or his body was aging faster than his brain, he left an imprint in your memory. In that last example, he even asked Jennifer Lopez out on a date (you sly dog, you).
Moving onward into my late teen years and current state, I looked at more of his serious roles, especially 2002’s One Hour Photo. If you’ve never had a chance to view this film, please do yourself the favor. You’ll see a side to him that you’ve never seen before and you might never want to see again. Mr. Williams also seemed to play sad characters so well, sort of a tragic irony really. Terry Gilliam (director of The Fisher King) said it best once when speaking about Robin, stating he has “very sad eyes” in a lot of his roles. I’ve recently checked out both The Fisher King and The Birdcage, and really enjoyed both. Birdcage is as funny as Fisher King is brilliantly sad.
Of course, what would a true tribute to Robin Williams be without speaking about the role that won him an Academy Award, Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. You couldn’t get any better than Williams to level out the initial douchey-ness of Damon’s Will Hunting. Here you have two characters who take different paths in life, but still have one constant that remains the same: Will not leaving and making something of his life and Maguire not getting over a past tragedy. There’s so much more to the picture but I’ll save it and just say check it out.
To end this tribute, I think the man himself should take the floor. Here’s a commercial for the 2011 3D remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time where Robin talks about the origins of his love for video games and is joined by his lovely daughter, Zelda Williams. The reason I bring this up instead of a classic interview or stand-up segment is because it’s important to look at the genuine love and laughter between the two, as it can really choke a man up. Plus, he may be the greatest dad ever for naming his daughter after a Princess and…just look at that beard. Bravo, sir.
I think I speak for everyone hear at g33k-e.com when I say our thoughts and prayers go out to the Williams family, friends, and fans who are still grieving over this terrible loss. Robin, you could make us laugh with a topic as small as cookie crumbs and still hit it out of the park. There will never be another one like you. Thank You.