By BETO HOYOS
Robin Williams will forever be remembered as one the most versatile actors the world has known. His career spanned multiple generations and touched the hearts of millions. He made his battle with depression and addiction widely known through his stand-up shows as well as his on screen performances. His initial burst onto the scene was as Mork from Ork, first in an episode of Happy Days, and the popularity of the character led to the creation of the show Mork and Mindy. He continued to make his name known as a comedic actor but more serious roles would allow Williams to really blossom as an actor. I remember seeing Williams in the 90’s in family friendly movies such as Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire and as the Genie in Aladdin. It was an unfortunate turn of events when the world heard of the actors passing, but as fans it’s important to celebrate the joy he spread to the world. Williams will forever be one of my favorite actors and I hope the world can remember all he achieved and not how he died.
- Good Will Hunting (1997): This film helped Williams earn his first and only Academy Award for best supporting actor. The plot centers on Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a young man working as a janitor at MIT, who is practically a genius. Hunting gets into some trouble with the law and attends therapy with a psychiatrists (Sean Maguire) played by Williams. Maguire begins to break through to Hunting and in time allows Hunting to see that he is a victim of his inner demons. In return, Hunting challenges Maguire to take a look at his life and helps him move on from the death of his wife. Maguire decides to travel the world and Hunting drives across country to reunite with an old girlfriend. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon originally intended the screenplay to be a thriller but the president of Castle Rock Entertainment at the time encouraged them to drop the thriller aspect so the film could focus on the relationship between Hunting and Maguire.
- Aladdin (1992): Perhaps one of the most known Disney characters of all time has to be the Genie. Ironically enough Williams did not want his name or image to be used in marketing. The part of the Genie was intentionally written for the comic and initially Williams was resistant to do the role but after the director put together a reel of the Genie doing Williams’ stand-up acts, Williams found it so funny that he climbed on board. The things that make the Genie so memorable are the same things that make Williams so memorable. Aladdin was released during a period known as the Disney Renaissance, a period that released some of the most memorable and most beloved Disney films in the company’s history. Many of which go into the Disney Vault for decades at a time.
- Mrs. Doubtfire (1993): As a child and even now as an adult I find this film all around enjoyable. It’s not a super funny, laugh out loud, type of movie but at the end it is a feel good story. Williams plays Daniel Hillard an unemployed but talented voice actor who is a devoted father to his three kids. Hillard’s wife (Sally Field) thinks he is irresponsible and immature and decides to file for divorce. He fears he won’t be able to spend time with his kids so Hillard uses the help of his makeup artist brother to construct the disguise that brings Mrs. Euphengenia Doubtfire to life so he can pass off as an elderly nanny. The filming took place in San Francisco, and following the actors death the location of the house in the movie became an impromptu memorial. Also, because of a line in this movie every time it’s hot outside and I start sweating I like to say “Oh dear, I’m melting like a snow cone in Phoenix”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then go watch the movie.
- Dead Poets Society (1989): This film brought forward the idea of “Carpe Diem” to a new generation. Williams portrayed an unorthodox English teacher in aristocratic 1959 New England, John Keating, who challenges his students to look at the world in a different perspective. Keating would tell his students to seize the day and to challenge the establishment and to “be wise, not stupid.” This movie was nominated for numerous awards and won the Academy Award for best original screenplay in 1990, an excellent year I might add. Films like this gave the world a look at the emergence of Williams as a dramatic actor. Fans saw a calmer, heartfelt performance, a performance which broke down the image of Williams being only a comic actor. In 1990 the Washington Post reviewer said that Williams gave a “nicely restrained acting performance.” This is a movie that really has to be watched in order to be understood.
- Good morning, Vietnam (1987): Williams plays Airman Second class Adrian Cronauer, a DJ who goes to Vietnam and works for the Air Force Radio Service. He arrived in Saigon and right away his sense of humor is present. The soldiers grew to enjoy his brand of comedy but his superiors were not as fond. He goes on to further rub his superiors the wrong way by playing rock & roll that is frowned upon. Anyone familiar with this film has to be familiar with the way the DJ begins his broadcast with a loud “Goooood Morning Vietnam!” This movie also featured a fascinating soundtrack of rock music from the late 60’s and early 70’s. After going through much turmoil with other soldiers and his superiors he is dismissed but before departing he leaves his friend and successor a farewell message which he plays on the air, and in his famous way Cronauer bids adieu only the way he can, with a loud “Goooood bye, Vietnam!”
- Insomnia (2002): Insomnia is a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film also called Insomnia. It’s a psychological thriller in which Williams plays Walter Finch, a crime writer with a dark past and a disturbingly dark yet calm personality. Films like this will keep you on the edge of your seat because it’s a thriller, but also the viewer is left wondering what Finch will do next. The cast is full of talent and when actors like Al Pacino, Hilary Swank and Williams get together for a movie it’s almost a must watch. Released in May of 2002 this summer thriller brought in $113 million worldwide.
- Awakenings (1990): This film is interesting. Williams plays Dr. Malcom Sayer in 1969 Bronx, a caring physician who treats catatonic patients that survived the encephalitis lethargica outbreak from 1917-1928. Sayer discovers that some of his patients can be reached beyond the catatonic state through different forms of stimuli. He begins to communicate with patient Leonard Lowe (Robert De Niro) through a Ouija board. Sayer decides to try a new drug, L-Dopa, on Lowe and he completely awakens from his catatonic state. The new drug appears to be helpful but the awakenings don’t last and soon patients return to a catatonic state. At the end of the movie Sayer returns to the Ouija board to continue his conversations with the catatonic Lowe and ends the film by stating “Let’s begin” as his and Lowe’s hands are on the board.
- One Hour Photo (2002): Williams plays Seymore Parrish a photo technician at a SavMart’s one-hour photo who becomes obsessed with the Yorkin family who are frequent customers of the store. Parrish is a shy, lonely man who leads a pretty boring life and longs to be part of the Yorkin family and to be able to receive all the love he thinks they have for him. Parrish is a perfectly balanced creepy stalker character because he has elements that would make you feel sorry for him like his loneliness but elements that are creepy like how eager he is to stalk people and how well he can hide his obsession. Parrish secretly makes copies of the photos the Yorkin’s have developed and creates a collage in his apartment. Through stalking the family and collecting photos, Parrish discovers Will Yorkin is cheating on his wife Nina and takes photos of the man. Parrish eventually sparks a conversation with Nina after talking about a book she was holding. After a confrontation with Yorkin, police arrest Parrish and he said “I did nothing wrong, I just took pictures.” As the film ends you see a picture imagined by Parrish of the Yorkin family with Parrish in it smiling.
- Jumanji (1995): Jumanji was a fun movie to watch as a kid. The craziness of the old board game coming to life was fun and triggered your imagination to work harder than a five year old mind ever had before. Williams plays Alan a man who is brought out of the game when two siblings find the board game and begin playing. Alan was trapped in the game since 1969 when he was a 12 year old boy. Alan emerges from the game full of hair and dressed in old jungle clothing and unaware of his new time period and location. I don’t want to give away the ending but things tend to work out for main characters like most family movies do.
- Hook (1991): In this classic children’s movie Williams portrays an adult version of Peter Pan who is now known as Peter Banning. His kids get kidnapped by captain Hook so Peter must return to Neverland to save his children but first he must regain his youthful spirit. At first his old friends don’t believe he’s who he says he is until Peter proves it’s him and starts to remember how it used to be. Peter battles Hook in an all-out sword fight and Hook tries to trick Peter but is saved by Tinker Bell and Hook faces his demise as a clock tower falls on him who was really a giant crocodile! Crazy right? Williams had a strong performance in the film and once again showcased his acting range by doing children films. Hook was a pretty chill movie as far as I remember. It has been a minute since I’ve seen it though.