This morning, I awoke to a three word text from a friend that shook the sleep from my eyes and put a knot in my stomach, “RIP Robin Williams”. In the hour that followed I watched the news channel piece together what has to be the saddest Hollywood death in recent memory. Contemplating the apparent suicide of Robin Williams is a most bitter pill to swallow. To think that a man who brought such happiness and laughter to millions of film fans around the world could not find it in himself to experience the same is heartbreaking. We have seen time and time again that the line between joy and sorrow in the minds of both special and ordinary people can be oh so thin, and for this particularly special person it seems as though the thin line finally became transparent.
I was never interested in Spiderman or Superman as a child, so as a youngster growing up in the nineties, Robin Williams was the closest thing I had in my heart to a superhero. It seemed as though everything the man touched turned to gold. The overwhelming nostalgia that films like Hook, Jumanji, Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire evoke for me are testament to the vibrant, energetic, unforgettable performances that Williams gave, appealing to adults and children alike. He was the undisputed king of the family film, a genre that is in desperate decline in contemporary times but one on which my love for cinema was founded. The pictures already mentioned and so many others including Patch Adams, Jack and Popeye provide such warm and comfortable viewing that it is simply impossible not to love them.
I may have discovered Williams through family fun, but the versatility of his talent lent itself to a number of more serious and challenging roles that he made his own just as decidedly. As I grew older I found a more adult, intellectually engaging side in his performances through films such as Good Will Hunting, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society and The Fisher King, and though his signature humorous spark and charisma are present in all, the integrity of his acting shines through, so much so that it garnered him an Academy Award in 1997.
Robin Williams leaves a hole in Hollywood that I am unsure can ever be filled. Truly one of a kind. It is almost impossible to try and imagine any moment of my childhood without his on screen presence, whether it be in the form of a big blue genie, the grown up boy from Neverland or a wise cracking old Scottish lady. A candle whose light burns so brightly and fiercely is always in danger of running out of wick too soon, and it breaks my heart that this has happened. Rest in peace Robin, I hope you can finally find some of the happiness that you have given, and will continue to give for generations to come.