What a terrible shame…
When I found about this only a few hours ago, it was one of those really bizarre moments where I just couldn’t compute what I was reading. Complete and utter disbelief. I was clicking on all of the available news articles reporting on it, hoping beyond hope that it wasn’t the Robin Williams that I grew up watching. While I would never profess to be his most ardent fan through the years, numerous of his films were a significant, indelible part of my childhood, which I must have watched a hundred times or so (that’s a genuine estimation, as well, not just an exaggeration for emphasis). And whether he was experimenting with flying rubber, battling Dustin Hoffman’s Captain Hook in Neverland, exploring a heavenly dreamscape with Cuba Gooding Jr, or getting trapped in a board game for 26 years – it was always extremely memorable.
It’s not just for this that his death has left such a profound impression, but also because of his prowess as a straight, dramatic actor. His heartfelt performances in films like Good Morning, Vietnam – putting rapid eloquence to tremendous use in his improvised radio commentaries – Insomnia – more than holding his own against Al Pacino as the film’s complex antagonist – One Hour Photo – playing the isolation and jealousy of his character’s tortured psyche expertly, making you simultaneously pity him and fear what he’s capable of – are some of my personal highlights. I’ve not seen Good Will Hunting or Dead Poets Society (two of his most popularly acclaimed movies), but in the three I’ve mentioned, he was absolutely bloody fantastic, and I’ll remember him for those characters just as much as I will for his more customary comedy roles.
Plenty of actors don’t diversify, but what I admire about Robin Williams is that he ventured far and wide outside of his comfort zone, and demonstrated just how capable he truly was. He was a seriously varied actor, and his body of work is testament to that.
Anyway, there are some of my brief thoughts. I wouldn’t ordinarily feel compelled to comment on something like this, but I think this is a particularly sad occurrence, and one that I’m still struggling to digest even now.
Rest in peace.