I remember as a kid, I rented Mrs. Doubtfire from the video parlour close to my house. I’d heard my friends talk about how funny the father in the film was. How he loved his kids so much that he decided to dress up as an old lady just to spend more time with them. The movie itself was hilarious! The scene where he’s moonwalking across the living room while Aerosmith’s Dude Looks Like A Lady blared in the background had me in hysterics.
By the end of the movie, I had a new favourite funny man. Robin Williams was his name and now, 20 years later, I can still picture his beaming smile and unfettered confidence.
I had to have more! The next film I watched was The Dead Poets Society. From the cover, I thought it was going to be a funny high-school film. Oh boy, was I wrong! That film changed me forever. It was smart, poignant and most importantly full of heart. And at the centre of this wonderful production was Mr. Williams himself. He was the teacher we all wanted, the teacher we all deserved. If we were going to school, then we demanded that we had a cool teacher like Robin Williams. Of course, that never happened, but we had to have some hope, right?
To say that Robin Williams changed my life would be an understatement. His stand up comedy was infectious and when I first heard him crack some of the funniest jokes ever, I knew that this was the guy I wanted to imitate. Williams was a clown. But he wasn’t the silly, over-the-top comedian.
No, Robin Williams was much more than that.
His film credits cover a range of unique and interesting roles. From the man-child in Jumanji to the creepy killer in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia, he carved out a special place in Hollywood. I mean, just take a look at Good Will Hunting. He was as much a star of the film as Matt Damon was. He played the mentor to Damon’s troubled genius to perfection.
You felt every word that came out of his mouth. He was the wake-up call a lot of us needed.
He was an ardent philanthropist and cared deeply about the world. In one eye-opening and heartwarming video, Williams bonds with Koko the gorilla and in that moment, you can truly see the child in Robin Williams. He showed no fear in front of the gorilla, only love, and Koko responded in kind.
Watch the video below and be prepared to get smacked right in the feels.
His personal life, though, was another matter altogether. They say that the warmest smiles hide the harshest truths and, with Robin Williams, his scars ran a little too deep. He battled depression and drug addiction and he finally took his own life on the August 11th, 2014. I don’t really want to talk about his death here because the life he lived was so much more interesting.
You guys remember his heart-breaking portrayal of Patch Adams? Or even his silly but inspired role as a child trapped in a man’s body in Jack? Well, I do and on his birthday, I plan to watch a bunch of his best films.
I don’t know if we’ll ever get another lively comedian like Robin Williams and even if we did it just wouldn’t be the same. His memory will live on, on screen and in our hearts.