It’s been a week since Robin Williams passed away but it’s still difficult to muster up the words to properly pay respect to the man. It’s been a tough year for movie fans. It was hard enough losing Philip Seymour Hoffman in February under such tragic circumstances, but to lose another icon so quickly is a crushing kick to the gut. Since Williams’ death on August 11, 2014, at a relatively young age of 63, the internet has been overflowing with eulogies, top 10s, career retrospective essays, and clips of the actor’s many memorable appearances. Most of it has been bittersweet reading and viewing. It’s likely that you’ve consumed many of those think pieces by now so I won’t go into a lengthy soliloquy about what the Oscar-winning actor’s work meant to me.
While Williams starred in many wonderful films, receiving four Oscar nominations (including one win) along the way, he also had his share of stinkers. For someone with such unbridled talent, Williams sure had a penchant for appearing in a lot of garbage. In spite of this, he ALWAYS gave it all. And he wasn’t afraid to take the risks. That’s rare in risk-averse Hollywood. How many performers would fully commit to a role as outrageous and bizarre as Rainbow Randolph in Death to Smoochy? Or give it all in maudlin and ill-advised projects like Patch Adams and Jakob the Liar? The industry punished him for taking those gambles but it’s gratifying to think that there was someone who had the guts to take them and ultimately OWN those roles, just as well as he did with his greatest ones.
But Robin Williams lasting legacy, at least in this writer’s mind, will be his ability to make people laugh. Whether it was in his movies, his stand-up routines or his appearances on numerous talk or award shows, Williams was a force of nature; An indestructible hurricane of energy whose ad-libbing prowess made him, simultaneously, a dream and a nightmare for broadcast producers. But for a lonely college kid living thousands of miles away from his family, those moments of comedic genius on Conan or Letterman made all the difference. For those memories and countless other moments that now adorn the corridors of YouTube for eternity, the world will be eternally grateful.
RIP Chief. We’ll never have someone like you.