Sure, he's best known for his zany antics and stream-of-consciousness comedic improvs, but Robin Williams was also comedic actor with soul.
He often chose movie roles that were beyond simply "funny." His characters had humor, warmth and heart. And for every Robots, or Patch Adams, there was a Birdcage.
Robin Williams made movies that didn't glorify violence or traffic in despair. His movies were the opposite, he glorified hope in the face of great obstacles. Which makes his death by his own hand even more confusing.
Clearly he struggled greatly, as we all do, money and fame do not soothe a tormented soul, but he was able to express his hope through his roles, even if the struggle proved too much for him personally.
So if you are going to delve into the Robin Williams oeuvre, here is the definitive collection of the top five must see Robin Williams movies ever made that aren't Good Will Hunting or Dead Poets Society.
What Dreams May Come
Deeply ironic in the face of his own suicide, WDMC is a deeply moving picture about eternal love and what might happen after we die.
Williams plays the soul of a deceased man who will do anything to save his wife, who has committed suicide and is condemned to Hell. Ultimately life affirming and an offering that there is a lot more to life than just our bodies.
Classic Williams. Often hilarious, but also touching and human, Williams plays an early gay Hollywood character as straight-ish man to Nathan Lane's even more zaniness.
Williams and Lane, a gay cabaret owner and his drag queen wife, agree to play it "straight" so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée's ultra-conservative parents.
He's all Id as the Yiddish-loving Genie and also gets some of the best lines ("Sadly, yes. She is my sister. She's a little crazy.") in this Disney classic that is actually kid-friendly too (i.e. not too much murder).
This time Williams is cross-dressing, but not gay, for a cause. He wants to see his children. Over-the-top slapstick, but in the name of heart and love. but not schmaltzy.
The Fisher King
Funny and sad, but never maudlin, Williams and Jeff Bridges make a dynamic onscreen pairing in this beautiful movie. Williams is a crazy homeless person who holds the key to a suicidal Jeff Bridges salvation.
Is Williams really crazy or is he actually the only sane one?