This morning, we pay tribute to a man who left us way too soon. Entertainer and Disney Legend Robin Williams left his mark on this world in so many ways, and left us way too early. Perhaps because of how it happened… perhaps because the stigma of depression that so many struggle with was given a very public face… perhaps because we just weren’t ready to say goodbye… This one affected so many in so many different ways. Today, Craig, Jake and Hayden share their individual tributes to the talented genius that was Robin Williams.
When kids like myself grow up, we look up to people who can make us laugh. Why? We look up to people who can make us laugh because it’s the purest form of happiness. Laughter is universal, and with laughter is its predecessor: comedy. The world lost one of the best comedians who made the world laugh for years and years. Robin Williams was a man who I admired growing up. His humor was for everyone. He had family jokes, kid jokes, adult jokes. Just a little something for everyone. Yet today, Mr. Williams passed away. A man who was admired for decades worth of roles that spanned a variety of film styles. He went from being a doctor with a red nose, to a wise cracking professor helping Will Hunting fully utilize his brilliance. He was a stand up comedian who didn’t just get us to laugh, but think about why we were laughing, and what we were laughing at. It was true brilliance. Some may disagree, but I would put him on a pedestal next to other greats. If Charlie Chaplin were alive, I would bet he could give him a run for his money. If George Carlin had a stand-up competition, Robin would go toe-to-toe. He was a mastermind of what to say, when and how to deliver it, and we would all erupt with laughter. Now, we’re going to laugh less because we lost him. There’s no more new characters, only the ones we grew up with. Thankfully, we can revisit Genie, Pan, Patch Adams, and Mrs. Doubtfire, and many more, and remember a man who once said as Dr. Sean Maguire in ‘Good Will Hunting’: “Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.”
The news of Robin Williams’ passing has been a tough reality to process. The Birdcage has one less bird, Peter Banning has flown back to Neverland.
Unbeknownst to many of you, I spent the weekend in Disneyland. On an evening walk down Main Street, it was touching to see a hardly-noticeable homage paid to Mr. Williams by the Silhouette Studio; A small, Genie portrait was placed in their window display. I spoke with the artist responsible, briefly thanking him for such a sweet gesture. We both agreed: the world lost a lot of good heart today, and has a little less to laugh about.
Toodles, Mrs. Doubtfire. Good night, Mr. Colema… Er, Goldman. Enjoy your freedom, Genie.
Words were hard to come by upon learning of his passing, but emotions weren’t. In a mere matter of moments, I felt myself going from shock to extreme sadness, from sadness to anger, from anger to empathy, to a feeling of true loss in this world. Even now I find myself asking why. Sure, I can feel angry that Mr. Williams chose to leave this world and rob his fans, and more importantly friends and family of any time he may have had left on this earth. But then, a form of depression so strong can take its toll in ways I personally have no understanding of, so that’s not completely fair. Nonetheless, I feel an emptiness at the passing of one of the true greats in the business. As a child I grew up with Mork from Ork. With the addition of a cable box in my household, I watched Robert Altman’s Popeye more times than I care to remember. Say what you want about the very… unique movie, Williams’ performance as Popeye was very memorable. As I got older, movies like Dead Poets’ Society, Good Morning Vietnam, and Awakenings showed an entirely new side of Robin’s talent. Then came Aladdin. The role of the Genie may be the most remembered role by any Disney fan. Giving Robin free reign to improvise was a sheer genius move – even from the animation side. Sitting in the movie theater, watching this incredibly spastic and hilarious performance… I was in tears of laughter. It was Robin Williams unleashed in a family friendly format, yet still with decidedly adult comedy. I loved it, as did countless others.
However, for me, the most memorable performance of his career was yet to come. In 1997, Miramax Films (a division of Disney pictures at the time) released Good Will Hunting, a movie about a troubled South Boston youth who is eventually helped and mentored by a therapist, played by Robin Williams. Williams won an Academy Award for best supporting actor, and it’s not hard to see why. To me, this movie showed the most genius levels of his acting. Williams’ Sean Maguire is funny, inspiring, and in turn, heartbreaking. The following scene epitomizes what I’ll miss most about the amazing work of Robin Williams. In one scene, he manages to go from heartbreaking to funny, only to turn sentimental and inspirational at the end. It was by far, one of the most human roles I’ve ever seen him do. (Warning: Some pretty foul language here. Don’t watch in front of kids or if you’re offended by strong language.)
Robin, I hope you’re at peace now. I want to thank you for the years you spent with us. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You left too soon. But you left us with a lot. And for that, you’ll always be remembered fondly.