It’s always sad when a celebrity passes away and we’ve had some really notable artists leave us too soon just within the past year (Philip Seymour Hoffman comes to mind). Yet the news of Robin Williams’ death has affected me immensely, more so than I want to admit.
When my little sister told me the news Monday afternoon, it was sheer disbelief. How can a man so full of life (who we’ve now learned was hurting inside) be gone? This man, who played such an integral part of my childhood and contributing to so many life memories–how can he be gone? It’s like losing a close family friend since Robin Williams was exactly that to my family and I. Robin Williams gave us so much laughter and joy that I wish we, as his audience, knew a way to give it right back.
I literally grabbed my Robin Williams blu-rays and started perusing, going through those cinematic moments that made me remember such awesome times. Robin Williams is the single actor that inhabited movies that were highlights of my life, both good and bad. He made me laugh, cry, think and feel. Robin Williams’ movies will forever be vivid landmarks that I need to share a few of them.
As proof of a talented actor and performer, his magic and his talent left an unforgettable impression on me as an actor, director, artist, and more importantly, as a person.
Rest in peace, O Captain, My Captain.
MORK & MINDY (TV Series 1978-1982)
As a little kid, I remember my parents laughing hysterically in our Daly City house on Morton Drive watching this show. One memory I have is being sick with a cold and my Mom snuggling me on the couch as we watched Mork & Mindy.
My parents hated this movie, but I was leaning forward, because I loved Popeye growing up.
GOOD MORNING VIETNAM (1987)
A late night drive-in near the airport and I was knocked out. I just remember my Mom and my Aunt going to this and every time Adrian Cronauer’s signature “GOOOD MORNING VIETNAM!!” yell would come on, it would wake me up in the backseat. I didn’t get it at the time, but watching it later in life gave me a full appreciation of what this man can do.
DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989)
My oldest sister Jerianne wanted to go to prep school and I remember watching this as a kid thinking prep school was terrible. Yet if we all had Professor Keating as a teacher, it might be awesome. To this day, this movie kills me and has played such a huge part in how I teach now. The first movie I popped on when I heard of Williams’ passing was this and minutes in, I’m balling my eyes out.
The movie that I share with my cousins to this day. We quote it. We reenact scenes from it. We can watch this movie over and over and over. Hook bonds my cousins and I together. It’s our movie and Williams’ Pan is unforgettable. Bangarang, indeed.
What made me fall in love with animation was this movie, mainly because of how animator Eric Goldberg captured Robin Williams manic genius in the art form. One of his best performances. One of my favorite Disney movies. I remember wanting to see the movie so bad and I missed the movie opening day because my parents were busy. I remember politely telling my Mom that I can wait. The next day, she takes me to see it and buys me ever Aladdin-themed toy at the Toys R’Us right beside the theater.
MRS. DOUBTFIRE (1993)
I remember seeing this with my cousins that Black Friday since it came out during Thanksgiving. I remember laughing hysterically and glancing over at my family, my cousins, my aunts and uncles because we took over one whole row! It thrilled me just seeing everyone in my family laughing. This man did that. Again, another movie I share with my cousins. Every time I pass by the Mrs. Doubtfire house in the city, it always puts a smile on my face.
This movie with all its merits, actually carries a darker place with my family and I. We were going through a tough time with my Grandfather passing away and having to see my parents struggle with their business at the time. Jumanji helped ease some of the real life chaos in our lives and it was comforting to know that Williams was still there for us, through thick and thin.
THE BIRDCAGE (1996)
My oldest sister Jerianne and I were stuck visiting relatives in the Poconos back east for a New York trip once. To escape the relatives, we found a movie theatre in town and they were playing this. To this day, my sister and I consider that the highlight of our trip, just laughing together away from the forced politeness of being around distant relatives. Just last month, my Mom and I popped this blu-ray on and we laughed our heads off.
GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997)
The first time an actor really moved me and hit me to the core was Robin Williams Oscar-winning performance in this film, which happens to be one of my favorites ever. I remember being a young buck in film school and just being reduced to a puddle on the classroom linoleum floor when I saw this. I remember seeing it with my family, my grandmother and my uncle and aunt and just being so moved by it again. As a filmmaker, the movie is a constant inspiration. As an actor, it’s an example, thanks to Williams heartbreaking performance.
WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (1998)
I saw this one afternoon with my sister Jerianne and a friend. By now, I’m a die-hard Robin Williams fan and just remember being so melancholic right after. It was his performance in this movie that came through, despite the Oscar-winning visual effects. It was his melancholy that shone through, and know looking back it, perhaps it was coming from the actor’s soul honestly and truthfully.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM (2006)
As we got older and my little sister Jerica grew up, it was rarer for us as a family to see movies together, but I’ll never forget seeing Night at the Museum at the Metreon in IMAX. My parents, my sisters and I wanted to rekindle that family movie night we used to have. We decided to go all out and see this movie on a random night during Christmas vacation. We had a blast and it felt like everything was well in the world.
Robin Williams has surely made more films that made such an impact on me as a performer (Insomnia, One-Hour Photo, just to name a few) and continued to make all of us laugh in whatever movie or TV show he appeared in (Happy Feet, License to Wed) but these are the big ones that I’ll forever hold in my heart. His presence on screen felt real and tangible, as if he were one of my uncles. His roles taught me a lot, perhaps its because he embodied them with full vigor and life.
Thank you, Mr. Williams, for being there throughout my cinematic endeavors. You will truly, truly be missed.