Remembering Robin Williams (1951-2014)

As long as I can remember Robin Williams was a part of the cinematic universe. He was a consistent presence who entertained audiences by bringing laughter to one of his countless comedies or surprising in a dramatic turn.

Whether he was a car salesman trying to make a deadline (“Cadillac Man”), a man trying to survive a devastating tragedy (“The Fisher King), a genie (“Aladdin”), a rapidly aging kid (“Jack”), a patient psychologist (“Good Will Hunting”), a determined professor (“Flubber”), a suspicious author ("Insomnia") or a devoted father (“RV”), he always brought a down to earth sensibility to it all.

When thinking back on his illustrious career there are a few movies that really stand out. He is one of the rare comedic actors who could completely shed the skin of his comedy background. When watching his Oscar nominated performance in “The Fisher King”, it’s hard to even fathom the comedian lurking beneath the veneer of Parry; a distraught homeless man whose friendship with a jaded shock-jock (Jeff Bridges) might hold the key to healing his shattered existence. It’s a performance where Williams (like he commonly did) wore his heart on his sleeve, vividly portraying the emotional highs and lows of Parry’s fragile mind.

Then there was his show stopping performance in “One Hour Photo”, a slow burn thriller that featured Williams as a kindly photo developer who becomes fixated on an idyllic family. It was a performance that displayed his ability to stay far away from funny. It was also an incredible movie that dealt with various subjects, chief among them voyeurism. It was a quiet, psychological drama that wrapped up several emotive textures and proved Williams’ knack for choosing worthy projects. 

“The Final Cut” a memorable film about people’s lives being recorded from birth and then edited together for a farewell video was a particularly thought provoking piece. Some think that if we had video proof, the truth would be a lot easier to know and “The Final Cut” offered the chilling notion that nothing was safe from editing.

It was a film that without his presence, I might have otherwise skipped and thanks to him, I didn’t. As “The Final Cut” demonstrated, we will always have what the camera captured and what it obtained of William’s storied career was something magnificent.