I normally don’t get too upset about hearing of a Hollywood death. I feel bad for the family and wonder what could have happened differently but I normally move on pretty quick considering I never actually knew the person involved.
Robin Williams changes that. When I heard of his death, I felt my heart drop and immediately was hoping for some stupid internet hoax. When I saw that all the major news networks were covering it, I knew it was true. Then to hear that it was suicide just made the cut deeper. We all knew Robin had demons but the recent news reports gave me positive hope, his last rehab trip in July was to help continue his sobriety. He was trying to stay on the wagon. To know that he was suffering from such a deep depression that he was willing and able to take his own life makes me feel horrible that he could spread so much joy to so many but couldn’t find any joy in himself.
I knew of Robin Williams since I was a child and saw Hook, then Aladdin and then Mrs. Doubtfire, Jack then Jumanji. This man was my childhood. I spent more time with him as a kid then some of my relatives. It hurts so much because of how well he related to everyone. Robin Williams was more than a comic. He was an everyman. He could do stand up, do great kids movies and break your heart in dramatic features. Whatever your fancy was, Robin could fulfill it. The reason your social media is blowing up about his death is because it’s hard to find a person that didn’t find something he did fulfilling and touching.
Mrs. Doubtfire was that movie for me. I was a child of divorce. My parents had divorced when I was three years old but by 1993, when Mrs. Doubtfire came out, I was starting to understand and deal with the fact that my parents weren’t like my friends parents. The movie made divorce realistic but still made it easy for kids to watch. That was the movie that I thought of first when I heard the news. It was a huge sense of peace for me. Robin spent a lot of time in my living room with all of his movies, I feel as though my own family member has died.
Beyond his comedic roles, he was a fantastic dramatic actor. It’s more difficult that it looks to succeed in both comedy and drama but Robin was able to do it. The Oscar he won for Good Will Hunting was so rightly deserved as he played that role with a tough gentleness that was so unique to him. My mothers favorite, The Birdcage, helped me put a realistic face on a gay man. At the time I didn’t have a lot of experience with the gay community but Robin showed that there was nothing scary about it. His character was like everyone else, he was a loving father and a business owner, he just happened to love another man.
What made Robin amazing for people in my generation, growing up in the 1990’s, was that he related so well to children. Take a movie like Jack. Not many actors can play a 10 year old boy who looks like an adult so convincingly but Robin did. He made every one of his roles unique and special. I thank him for that, I thank him for tirelessly entertaining everyone around him and for spreading so much joy throughout the world. His legacy will live on and he will be remembered fondly. There’s not much else that can be said except I will miss him as an actor and as a person very much and I hope that he’s finally at peace. After all he’s done for us, he deserves that.
R.I.P. Robin Williams (1951-2014)