What made Robin Williams so memorable?
Famous people die, often without a huge ripple, but Robin Williams’s death has shaken up so many of us, myself included. Why?
Was it because he was so remarkably talented? Was it because he made us laugh? And cry? Was it because we grew up with him and his movies and, therefore, attach him to our childhood or other fond memories?
It’s a combination of everything, really.
Many good actors have a few memorable roles where they’re able to create such magnificent art that they leave lasting impressions on all of those privileged to watch. But Robin Williams had several! Whether it was Good Morning Vietnam or Mrs. Doubtfire, his audience couldn’t help but love him as an actor and sympathize with his characters. He was just that likeable.
Still, I think the thing that distinguished him more than anything from the host of other great actors was his ability to create such amazing comedy AND drama within the same movie.
Comedy in movies is memorable. It makes us smile. It makes us forget about our lives for a little while. It creates lasting, fond memories of not just the movie but also the time period and context in which you watched it. There are many extremely talented comedic actors out there today, but Robin Williams was one of the best.
Drama in movies is also memorable and powerful. It stirs our emotions. It wakes us up from our complacent little world and makes us face issues head-on. It makes us human again. When a movie is powerful enough to stir your emotions and move your heart, the experience leaves an imprint on your soul that can help shape who you become.
For an actor to be able to pull off both comedy and drama, in so many movies, and to do it so amazingly well every time, is beyond incredible. And it’s why Robin Williams is going to be so greatly missed. We went on roller-coaster rides of emotion with him that we will never forget. He didn’t just give us laughter, and he didn’t just give us tears. He gave us both. Over and over again.
Here are some of my favorite moments of laughter and tears:
Good Morning Vietnam:
Laughter – There are way too many funny lines and scenes to repeat, but this is one of my favorites and probably most memorable lines. “Gooooooood morning Vietnam! It’s 0600 hours What does the “O” stand for? O my God, it’s early!”
Tears – The bomb scene and then the heated scene where he wants to report about the bomb and they won’t let him. “What are you afraid of Dickerson? People might find out there’s a war going on?”
Dead Poets Society:
Laughter – The first class he teaches about poetry, he talks about how the Pritchard scale for judging poetry is “excrement.” Later he tells a student who read his pitiful, one-line poem, “Congratulations, Mr. Hopkins. You have the first poem to ever have a negative score on the Pritchard scale.”
Tears – Of course, the “O Captain, My Captain” scene at the end!
Laughter – Um…the entire movie
Tears – The courtroom scene when he loses custody of his kids is heartbreaking.
Laughter – His verbal fight with Ruffio. “You two-toned zebra-headed, slime-coated, pimple-farmin’ paramecium brain, munchin’ on your own mucus, suffering from Peter Pan envy!”
Tears – The end where he returns home, Granny Wendy says, “So…your adventures are over.” He replies, “Oh, no. To live…to live would be an awfully big adventure.”
Good Will Hunting:
Laughter – Much of his exchange with Will, especially in the beginning, is witty and funny. He doesn’t stand out with hilarious humor in this movie; it’s more of a dramatic role for him. But his wit and humorous nature is still evident.
Tears – The park bench scene is amazing! “You don’t know about real loss, ‘cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.” But the part that really makes me cry is where he actually gets to Will, telling him over and over that his childhood abuse was not his fault until Will breaks down in his arms. Pure art!
In case you were wanting a key to the movie title collage, here it is:
Morning (Bye) = Good Morning Vietnam
Robin Williams = from the cover of Good Will Hunting (I had to include my favorite!)
Thanks for = Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything
Awakening = Awakenings
Our = One Hour Photo (not his best movie, but couldn’t find “our” anywhere else)
Dead = Dead Poets Society
World = The World’s Greatest Dad
2 = Happy Feet 2
Cage = Birdcage
Our = One Hour Photo
Doubt = Mrs. Doubtfire
Dream = What Dreams May Come
Big = The Big Wedding
& = Mork & Mindy
Seize the Day = Seize the Day