Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

I was all set to sit down and write a couple new blog posts on the 2 most recent films I saw in theaters, Guardians of the Galaxy and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but I find myself unable to focus on those movies after getting the tragic news about the passing of Robin Williams yesterday. His work in films and TV had such an impact on so many people, which was plainly evident by the massive outpouring of shock and grief on social media yesterday and today. My timeline in both Facebook and Twitter were filled with comments from people, including myself, expressing their memories of Williams and how he had impacted their lives, as well as sorrow over his lifelong struggle with his personal demons.

My earliest memories of Williams were from watching episodes of Mork & Mindy as a young child, which was his primary exposure to many of my generation. We also knew him as the lovable Genie in Aladdin and the hilarious Mrs. Doubtfire, amongst many other roles. For me, the pivotal role that really touched me more than any other Williams role was his Oscar nominated turn in Dead Poets Society. I know I’m not the only one who was impacted by that classic film, as at least half a dozen others in my timeline updated their status with “Oh Captain My Captain” upon hearing the news. As an actor, Williams had incredible versatility, whether he was playing a zany, manic goofball, a serious hero, or an off kilter psychopath like he did in Insomnia and One Hour Photo.
Too many of my generation know him from film and television, but forget that he was also an incredible stand-up comedian. His stage sets were filled with his trademark energy, and fortunately many of those performances live on the internet thanks to YouTube and other video hosting sites. There is an edited version of the first stand up performance I ever saw him in, back in the telethon Comic Relief VI, 20 years ago, that you can easily find on YouTube. I didn’t realize until that performance that I saw when I was 12 that he was a stand-up comic in addition to being a film and TV star, and he was hilarious. The clip online is only 8 minutes, which is a shame because the whole set is hysterical and I can still recite portions of it to this day.

My son now is only two and a half, but when he gets a bit older, he too will be introduced to the incredible performances of Robin Williams. He’ll see Aladdin, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire & Jumanji, and the Night at the Museum series in his childhood, and when he gets older I’ll make sure to show him Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting when he is old enough to appreciate the lessons from those films

I am still in shock today. I still cannot believe that he is gone. Having struggled with depression myself in the past, I know how hard of a demon that can be to deal with. My deepest condolences go out to his loved ones and friends in this tough time. I hope he has found the peace in death that he didn’t have in his life. So long Mr. Williams, and thank you for all of the great memories. You will be forever missed.

Lastly, if you yourself are struggling with depression and you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.