- Posted August 13, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Growing Up with Robin
Prior to his passing, I hadn’t realized just how impactful Mr. Williams had been on my life. As a cinephile, and a member of the industry, I cannot help but appreciate a career that is nothing short of remarkable. I have always viewed Mr. Williams as a comedian, somehow separating his hilarious antics from his serious on-screen bona fides. Yet, in retrospect, it could be said, for anyone in my generation, that I grew up under Robin Williams’ tutelage. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), which debuted in the year of my birth, is simultaneously a side-splitting, self-aware comedy and a raw, basic man-of-two-worlds story. Williams displayed his brilliant, manic, mile-a-minute signature deadpan while also proving he was a more than capable dramatist. The film itself exemplifies both war’s ability to destroy and it’s capacity for hope.
Professor John Keating taught us all to love poetry, to sound our barbaric yawp and to seize the day. Dead Poets Society (1989) taught me that words and ideas can change the world, that I am here and life exists. It convinced me to pursue beauty to its lair, and to share it. Countless poets, writers, teachers, lovers and actors no doubt trace their passion back to lessons learned at Welton Academy.
Peter Banning reminded us that we never have to grow up, it’s never too late to fulfill our destiny and all we ever have to do is believe. That, and he taught us the art of the insult. Hook (1991) took the world back to it’s childhood and Robin led us to Neverland. He fathered a generation of lost boys and reminded us that to die would be a grand adventure.
No single performance more encapsulated Mr. Williams’ uncontrollable genius than his 53-character whirlwind voiceover blitzkrieg in Disney’s Aladdin (1992.) He made us all wish we had a Genie. I rubbed every single lamp in my house, praying for even just one wish from a larger-than-life blue maitre d’. We all wanted a friend like him.
One year later Williams did the impossible, stealing the hearts of families around the world in the process. He made an elderly housekeeper named Euphegenia Doubtfire cooler than James Bond. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) again exemplified Williams’ ability to completely transform himself and allow hilarity to ensue. Dude looked like a lady and placed every nanny in a cold, dark shadow for the rest of eternity.
We gathered around the board to play Jumanji (1995) with Alan Parrish. Most of us got our first taste of gay cabaret at The Birdcage (1996.) And every child became painfully aware of his or her inevitable mortality as one of our own, indefatigable Jack (1996) grew up and old right before our eyes.
One performance for me, however, stands atop this illustrious mountain. Few characters in film history have spoken more to me than Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting (1997.) Williams’ character recognizes brilliance, as many did, but finds a way to convey that genius to the one person who must appreciate it the most. Through a series of penetrating statements and revealing monologues, Williams cemented himself as a completely independent and massively gifted thespian. The Academy rewarded his performance in the form of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, but the success of that character reverberates much deeper in the souls touched by that film and its message.
Dozens more, and winners all. Williams did what many in Hollywood, myself among them, strive to do and, indeed, dedicate their lives to. He told stories that matter. He embodied characters that needed to express themselves. He graciously shared their stories, and his talent, with each and every one of us. No one who has seen Robin Williams when he’s on (and he was never off) can avoid a smile. That was his genius and he was in every sense a genius. No matter the circumstance, he could make us laugh. Sheerly due to the number of roles he played in all of our lives, few people, in any walk of life, are more celebrated and beloved than Robin Williams.
To you, Robin, I say this. O Captain, My Captain, thank you for showing me the way; to Neverland, to the cave, to rest of the world. Thank you for filling my childhood with laughter and love. You sacrificed yourself, you battled your own demons privately, so that I could smile. You put me first, you made our happiness your priority. For you, nothing mattered more. You performed for me and for all of us and in our memories you can never die because you are a part of who we are. Your fearful trip is done but our powerful play goes on. Thank you for contributing your wonderful verse.
“I don’t have very much time these days so I’ll make it quick. Like my life. You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry , thinking, “What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?” But I say to you, “Hey, look at me!” Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did. I made it, Mom. I’m a grown up.” -Jack