*This is reaction to Robin Williams’s death that I began to write, but didn’t publish. Sometimes, it’s just too hard to put anymore words on paper*
How do I write this post? When I found out at work today that Robin Williams had passed, I’m not sure I’ve ever had the wind taken out of my sails so quickly. Of course, I’ve never met the man. By all accounts, he was a warm, kind, generous person, who gave freely of his time, supported many younger comics, actors, and troops, and was a pleasure to work with. The outpouring of true, genuine sadness and condolences from the film and comedy industries are really the only proof you need of how kind spirited he was.
No, I never knew him personally. But Robin Williams was one of the titans of my childhood, a man who taught me what it was to be a man (Good Will Hunting), that words have power (Dead Poet’s Society), that one should never forget how to be a kid (Hook). I saw him become an old lady (Mrs. Doubtfire), I saw him become a genie (Aladdin), I saw him become a robot, who became a man (Bicentennial Man). He healed people with laughter, both in Patch Adams and in real life. His stand-up was furious, vitriolic, dirty … and hilarious. His ability to do impressions was incredible, unbelievable, even, and he would cycle through them faster than you could realize who he was impersonating. You watch his stand up, and you see real comedic genius, real comedic talent, all the real work he had put in.
“To die would be a great adventure.” ~Peter Pan
What strikes you is that he was always the heart of a movie. Whether he was getting a wayward youth to embrace his gift and his humanity, or a father, willing to sacrifice anything, his dignity even, for his kids, Robin Williams always chose parts full of heart, parts that made you ache with warmth. Perhaps that’s why it was so hard to hear this news; he has no contemporary or replacement. He was a generational actor, a man who brought his unique talent to bear, and shared his gifts of laughter and warmth with us. He will be sorely missed.