The world experienced collective grief this week as the shocking news of Robin Williams‘ death broke. He was discovered by his assistant in his Californian home at 11.55am local time on Monday 11th August and the incident has since been confirmed as a suicide. As an actor, Robin Williams will be remembered for his many roles through the years, mostly by the children of the 80s and 90s who grew up with films such as Jumanji, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin in which he was the voice of the loveable Genie. His family have released statements to ask that he be remembered for the joy he brought to the world through his numerous film roles. It is impossible not to recall his most outstanding roles which will have played such a part it so many childhoods. As Peter Pan returning to Neverland to save his children in “Hook“, to “Mrs Doubtfire” in which he assumes the identity of a female nanny to spend more time with his children, the countless times Robin Williams has made us laugh and cry in equal measure are unquantifiable.
Fans, celebrities, film companies and politicians alike have all taken to their various communication platforms to pay tribute to Robin Williams which prove to illustrate further what an incredibly inspiring man he was, and how much humour and entertainment he provided us all with. Countless fans across the world have laid flowers and cards at various memorial sites which have popped up on the locations of his most famous films, including Boston’s Public Garden which was seen in “Good Will Hunting” in which Mr Williams played a therapist who helped Matt Damon‘s character through various personal and emotional issues. He won the Academy Award for this in 1997 for Best Supporting Actor.
A pioneer of imagination and humour, his roles will be remembered for their effortless approach to childhood fantasy. I can’t imagine growing up without the fear of being transported into a board game with beating drums or without hoping to fly to Neverland from my bedroom window and I won’t be alone in that. Robin Williams defined those films for children worldwide and will be remembered for years to come as an actor who spoke to children and lived out dreams beyond even the wildest imaginations.
It is no small wonder that Robin Williams’ characters inspire the characters in his films just as much as they inspired a generation of children watching from the other side of the screen. The most notable scene to remember is from Dead Poets Society, in which he played motivational and influential high school teacher Professor John Keating, where his students recite “O Captain! My Captain,” to honor Robin Williams’ character’s intellect and compassion. Dead Poets Society as a film is the best expression of Mr Williams’ portrayal of both humour and pain as synonymous emotions.
“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most.”
– President Barack Obama
He has since been remembered as “a Catherine wheel of comic energy – brilliant, irrepressible, inspired.” by impressionist Rory Bremner, a description which is completely applicable to Mr Williams and is evident in every role we have watched him play. A personal quote from Robin Williams summarises his vivacious and effervescent personality and it seems fitting that this is what he leaves us with:
“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
– Robin Williams
As an actor who defined so many childhoods, Robin Williams’ spirit and humour will remain eternal in the hearts of his family, fans, friends, and colleagues.