By Luke Spiby
Robin Williams was a man of many talents. He succeeded in stand-up, flourished in films and thrived in theatre; yet even after all of the accomplishments and admiration, he still couldn’t succeed in his struggle with stardom. His heart-breaking suicide on 11th August was the result of a life time fighting depression, as well as recently being misdiagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease, mistaken for Lewy Body dementia, and possibly many more personal troubles that he could no longer stand up to.
I remember the day that Williams died. I couldn’t believe it when I found out, not because it was unbelievable, but because I didn’t want it to be true. It was a dark day, and the only silver lining came in the following weeks, as thousands of people paid tribute to him all around the world. Memorials were prepared by fans throughout the United States; Broadway dimmed its lights and many famous faces, including President Obama, paid their respects. Although it was a tragic time, it was wonderful to see so many people come together for a man that was there for us for years.
In a prolific career, Williams appeared in more than 20 TV shows and 80 films, garnering over 50 award nominations for his work. Amongst these were two BAFTA nominations, twelve Golden Globe nominations, of which he won six, and four Academy Award nominations; winning one for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting (1997). Williams’ breakthrough into film came in the form of Popeye in 1980, yet it wasn’t until 1987 when he starred in Good Morning, Vietnam – for which he acquired his first Academy Award nomination – that audiences recognised his talent. The late ‘80s to mid ‘90s saw Williams prove to the world that he was in fact a Hollywood heavyweight; acclaimed appearances in Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), Mrs Doubtfire (1993) and Jumanji (1995), among others, meant that Williams began receiving the praise that is still associated with his name today.
It has been only four short months since Williams’ passing, so expect to see his face on the side of buses for a while yet. Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb was posthumously released just two weeks ago, on 19th December, with Williams’ final film, British comedy Absolutely Anything scheduled for release on 13th February next year.
Williams’ Best Bits
3. Patch Adams (1998). Williams plays the title role in this heart-warming biopic, about a doctor who believes that emotionally investing in his patients leads to better healthcare. In an excellent performance, Williams was able to navigate through the film’s many ups and downs with ease, leaving audiences both giggling and grasping for tissues; occasionally at the same time.
2. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987). Eccentric army radio DJ Adrian Cronauer relies heavily on comical one-liners and amusing impersonations, not unlike Williams himself; and it becomes obvious from early on that this was a match made in heaven. Showcasing his immeasurable talent for probably the first time in his career, an inspired Williams actually improvised the majority of his lines, becoming an idol to audiences from the very first “Gooooood Morning, Vietnaaam!”
1. Good Will Hunting (1997). Williams’ Academy Award winning portrayal of psychology professor Dr Sean McGuire is probably his most memorable role. The raw emotion that Williams was able to bring to the part was poignant, clearly using some of his own troubles to make McGuire real and relatable. His experience over knowledge monologue is to this day one of the most moving scenes to grace our screens.
I could sit here for hours discussing why Robin Williams was such a legend in the film industry and listing all of his outstanding performances. I could break through my word limit without even noticing, and keep writing, without even caring. Williams had an illustrious career which focused on bringing joy to millions of people that he didn’t know; all the while he secretly battled against his own adversities. He made us laugh, he made us cry, but most importantly he never stopped entertaining us and we loved him for it. In return for his great service, we accepted him into our homes and into our hearts, and although he may not be with us anymore, we will never forget him.
Luke Spiby is a third year Chemistry student with a passion for film. Follow him on Twitter @LJSpibs