The world has lost another wonderfully talented, lovely person today.
How do I know he was lovely, well I guess I don’t for sure. For like so many that loved him, I never knew him personally. Yet he has been a constant in my life since I can remember. From here, he seemed so warm and kind and funny how could I not surmise he was lovely. He was always the one I named when asked who I would have at a dinner party out of anyone in the world living or dead..he Diane Keaton and Bill Murray, what a conversation that would be!
I feel really sad today, I have even shed a tear to be totally honest when I heard the news. I am not entirely sure why it has effected me so much – well maybe I do…
When I think of Robin Williams I am immediately taken back to sitting on our patterned 70’s carpet, me fresh from my bath, sitting cross legged in my brunch coat and jiffies; greens, browns and mustard decor all around me. Staring up at the screen totally enamored by the wackiest (and hairiest) man I had ever laid eyes on. The red space suit, the egg space ship, Mindy and her beautiful hair and outfits. I was absolutely captivated.
I cottoned on pretty fast that my father felt the very opposite way about this show, he thought Mork was a lunatic and made his point by always turning the channel over to the much more sensible news program. Once I realised dad didn’t think much of Robin’s ‘hamster on speed’ comedy, it made me love him all the more. In my little mind this TV show now needed my full support and dedication. So sneaking the channel back and getting to watch Mork for the whole half hour was a small victory for me, whenever dad got distracted with a phone call or saving mum who was in the background trying to wrangle 4 kids and their homework, lunch box preparations, dinner, washing and also herding me away from the giant brown box of a television and to the dinner table. From the first nanu nanu, I was along for the ride to planet Ork despite my lack of double jointed fingers.
His comedy over the years lit up the dark for so many; Birdcage, Mrs Doubt Fire, his glorious and clever Genie in Aladdin and of course my favorite Good Morning Vietnam, I knew every word and wore that VHS tape out from playing it so much. I am sure mum knew the words too.
And then Dead Poets Society happened. I was an 11 year old girl and this was the first movie that effected me deeply and changed the way I viewed the world. This time I recall my sisters and I; and mum and dad, all sprawled around the lounge room on a Sunday late afternoon. For some reason we had a table in the lounge room, I think left over from a party or Christmas, and as the novelty it was, my sister Trish and I lay under it on our bellies, propping our heads up with our hands. Trish would have been 17 at the time so it was a rare treat she was even home and spending time with me. I am sure it was her who lay that way first, to watch the movie and I soon copied trying to be as close to her as I could, much to her annoyance. ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’, I remember how sad I felt for the teacher character he played so beautifully and how inspiring he was. I think it was the first time I cried from a movie, I was so taken with its message and still am today.
Years later, Robin Williams again stirred up those feelings in Good Will Hunting, in my opinion his greatest role. Knowing that beautiful and irreverent monologue about his wife was all ad-libbed by Robin, makes it all the more wonderful. Watching that movie you knew you were watching magic happen.
Over the years I have read about his struggle with drugs and alcohol, and learning he was a cocaine addict gave me an ah-ha moment, thinking about all those physically exhausting ‘interviews’ he would give, you would be in stitches and wondering how his family coped with that kind of energy at home, and did he ever switch off.
It seems he did, and has spoken about how it was ironically cocaine he reached for to switch off and slow down.
It is very sad when you hear anyone has felt so desperate and so alone that suicide is the only solution. I think of his wife and his children who are left to make sense of it all, angered that the demons he was fighting for so long, won.
I hope if anything can come from this sadness, it is that a light shines again on depression and the awfully destructive disease that addiction is and not a flaw or weakness that mere will power can solve.
Robin Williams in my mind, was a wonderful and talented man, an icon; but clearly a complex one and I do hope he is at peace now.
I too realise these things effect me just that little more now I know what pain and loss is, as I am sure it does for others in the same unfortunate club. It is hard not to have something like this touch those parts of your heart that are a bit sore and tender, I cry now more at news stories and sadness washes over me when I see others in pain..so yes I get that this is probably what this is too, but his body of work meant something to me and I will treat it as very precious now as I am sure others will too.
I hope he went peacefully and I hope he went knowing how much he was loved.
Please do yourself the favour of watching;
One Hour Photo
Death by Smoochy
World’s Greatest Dad