Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams

By now we've all heard the shocking news surrounding Academy Award Winner Robin Williams. After battling multiple forms of addiction since the 1980s along with a recent bout of severe depression, Williams has allegedly taken his own life at the age of 63.

As a lifelong admirer of his work, I've chosen to devote August's Movie List of the Month to fondly remembering one of Hollywood's greatest performers (click here for July's list). And although we've lost a true artist, Robin Williams will never be forgotten. Here's a look back at my favorite Robin Williams roles throughout his illustrious career (please note that I've never seen the well regarded film The Fisher King).

Honorable Mention: Dr. Malcom Sayer - Awakenings, Peter Banning - Hook, Rainbow Randolph - Death to Smoochy and Armand Goldman - The Birdcage.

#5. Jack Powell - Jack

Like many other films listed in this article, the 1996 comedy Jack is representative of my childhood. While the film was critically panned and never truly embraced by the masses, Robin Williams gave a golden performance as a youth with an aging disorder that forces his body to mature four-times as fast as the average person. In many ways Jack represented Robin Williams in a role that he was born to play, simply a big kid. 

#4. Adrian Cronauer - Good Morning, Vietnam

Released well before my time, Good Morning, Vietnam was a film I sought out solely because of my respect for Robin Williams. I had always heard such amazing praises for his Oscar-Nominated role as Adrian Cronauer, an irreverent and insubordinate disc jockey for the Armed Forced Radio Services during the Vietnam War, where his on-air antics bring joy and comfort to soldiers during the most difficult time in their lives. Williams will always be remembered most for his comedic flair, yet Good Morning, Vietnam represented the gifted performer's successful transition to dramatic acting as well.

#3. Daniel Hillard - Mrs. Doubtfire

One of the most iconic films in Robin Williams' career was the 1993 hit Mrs. Doubtfire. Extremely quotable and the highest grossing film of his career (even more than Aladdin) touching just shy of $220 million in domestic box office revenue, Williams stars as Daniel Hillard, an immature and divorcing father of three who is forced to use his talent for impersonations in order to live under the alter-ego Mrs. Doubtfire so that he can spend unsupervised time with his children. It was through this role that Robin Williams officially captured the hearts of an entire nation.

#2. John Keating - Dead Poets Society

Another Academy Award Nominated performance came from Peter Weir's 1989 inspirational drama, Dead Poets Society. Williams starred as English Teacher John Keating, a remarkable leader who pushes his impressionable students to seize the day and create their own paths in life. As an educator generating inspiration and drawing motivation are key factors to success, and ones that Williams displayed brilliantly in the film. So much, in fact, that his performance became an influential component in my desire to teach mathematics. Therefore, in more ways than one, I owe a large bit of gratitude to the phenomenal work of Robin Williams.

#1. Sean Maguire - Good Will Hunting

Before this remembrance comes to a close, it's important to understand that the late Robin Williams will never be forgotten. His energy and zest for humor were so inspirational and transcending in millions of people's lives. But for me, my lasting memories of Robin Williams will be his emotionally charged performance in one of the greatest dramas I've ever encountered, Good Will Hunting. Williams won an Oscar for his supporting role (and deservedly so) as a former mathematics standout turned psychiatrist who takes one of the most brilliant minds the world has ever known under his careful guidance. It was through the role of Sean Maguire that Williams altered my views on feelings such as love, pain and remembrance. And although we all lost a fantastic artist yesterday, his creative genius will last for many, many lifetimes. I feel honored to have witnessed his legacy.

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