At Least He Was Mentioned
The nation mourned last August as we learned that actor Robin Williams took his life. When I hear about any celebrity passing away, I normally take a deep breath, remark about the tremendous loss we experienced, and move on. But Williams, like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, was someone who I felt I could relate to and could never do wrong. To be taken from us so tragically came as such a surprise. He often elevated the questionable material he would take on.
I expected a huge tribute at the Oscar ceremony a few weeks ago. He's been nominated and a winner, so it seemed like a possibility. While it seems cruel that his life deserved more time and applause than the sound guys, actors, and producers who were also mentioned, he was a huge part of the cultural zeitgeist. Though apparently I shouldn't be complaining.
With that in mind, I am reposting a tribute I wrote to Williams on my Facebook page here. It was something I wrote in a quick burst of inspiration brought on by the sadness of his loss. A lot of friends were kind enough to post it on their pages. It gave me some confidence in my writing, much like Williams gave me the confidence to be a little crazy and embrace my manic side.
One aside: it's been a busy week on the article front. Three articles were published this week, including a piece on how Father John Misty may have ruined vinyl , how one song made Adia Victoria the toast of Nashville, and Girl Talk's collaboration with Freeway.
Long final thought on Robin Williams:
He's been a star for my entire life: reruns of "Mork & Mindy," watching "Popeye" over and over again, and searching for the VHS copies my parents had of old Comic Relief specials, "Moscow On The Hudson" and "World According To Garp." I didn't understand most of these films half the time. I didn't even realize how lousy "Popeye" was. I knew I was watching a genius at work. He was tapped into something that came from his subconscious and it made such a huge impression on me I wanted to replicate that unfiltered spontaneity and desire to make people laugh.
I'd watch "Aladdin" and "Mrs. Doubtfire" till the tape broke. As I got older, his choices in roles became more diverse and I admired how daring he was. Guys like Adam Sandler and Vince Vaughn can coast on charm and repetition, but watch "One Hour Photo" or "Insomnia." That's not stunt acting. He's tapped into something dark.
"Good Will Hunting" is just another TV film of the week when you break it down, but with Williams playing the damaged therapist Sean Maguire the movie and script became something extraordinary. The scene when two men hug and all Will's problems are magically solved is silly stuff but in the hands of a master it gets me every time I see it. Williams is the reason it's one of my top 10 movies.
I think at some point he realized he didn't need the money, so I always liked the small movies he made, especially "World's Greatest Dad." He always elevated the material he had, but respected the source. That movie could've been something different but he knew it was pitch black material and kept it that way. He was just so darn smart. Why does "The Birdcage" work so well? Williams knew Nathan Lane would kill it, especially when he pierces the toast. He wants to watch him just like the rest of us.
If he wasn't so open about his depression, it was obvious (to me anyway) that he could have been bi-polar or manic depressive. His inhibition didn't come from out of nowhere, especially when he had so many addictions. It made him relatable in a way. He was human. When I found out he was a cyclist, I just loved him even more. I imagine him and I, two crazy stocky dudes covered everywhere below the neck with hair riding through San Francisco.
I fought back tears at work when I found out about his apparent suicide.
Thank you Robin Williams. May you have the peace you were looking for.