For most in their 20s, memories of Robin Williams began early on, and at a special time in Williams’ career. As the ’80s gave way to the ’90s, he had a daughter and another son and became more active than ever in films that spoke to multiple generations.
It was at this point that the famous, and infamously outrageous, comedian channeled a completely different side of his personality, one that was hidden for so long behind silly voices, and his 100 mile per hour zane. Williams showed his enormous heart, and it translated with so many who grew up in that era. He wasn’t just a funny looking man on a screen, either. He was like the cool Uncle, the mentor, the one who spoke our language in a way so innocent, that no other really could.
Digging for childlike wonderment for his Pan role in “Hook,” personifying the loyalty of the genie in “Aladdin,” even showing his buoyant spirits amidst heartbreak in”Patch Adams,” Robin Williams’ versatility in his craft boiled down to the very sentimentality of his core; his love of laughter, his love of people, and his love of love.
For me, this level of Williams’ mastery was best exemplified in a rather quirky role. Amongst gags of pies in the face and a “run-by fruiting,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” presented both a frightening dose of reality, and calming sense of guidance to quell it. As the broken-spirited Daniel Hillard, Williams delivered a character that crouched behind his laughter, shielding himself from the disintegration of his family and the piercing feelings of failure. As the bubbly and dolled-up Mrs. Doubtfire, the actor more literally hid behind a farce, but was at his happiest– embracing his nurturing spirit and seizing an important second chance. The film culminates in a speech from Williams that maybe isn’t his most inspiring of his canon, but is a figurative group hug, providing ease to the lost or hopeless, and a simple reminder that you’re never alone.
Some live in separate homes, separate neighborhoods, and different areas of the country, and may not see each other for days, weeks, months, or even years at a time. But if there’s love, dear– those are the ties that bind. You’ll have a family in your heart forever. All my love to you, poppet. You’re going to be alright.