Robin Williams was one of my favorite actors in high school. My first memories of him are from Mork and Mindy–a show I only saw snippets of here and there, but which I thought was really cool. (A whole TV show about funny aliens? What’s not to like about that?) But it was Dead Poets Society that really caught my attention when it came out. I was 12, and it was one of the first movies I remember watching for any other reason than simple entertainment. I mean, we’re talking a drama here, people. Part of my interest in studying English can be traced to that film, and how many movies can you say really changed your life?
But it wasn’t just Dead Poets. It was followed up by Awakenings, Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and What Dreams May Come. When you’re under 20, you just haven’t had time to watch a whole slew of movies yet. (Well, for my current definition of “whole slew.”) That means each individual film can have a much bigger impact on you as a viewer. See five or six good movies by a single actor, and that actor becomes the bee’s knees. I even sought out less mainstream Robin Williams movies. Toys or FernGully, for example. (FernGully!?!) Heck–I even bought the soundtrack to Toys. That’s the kind of Robin Williams fan I was.
Years have come and gone, and it’s been a while since Williams was in anything I loved loved. I would still return to some of my favorite movies, and having him in the cast was still enough cause to motivate me to see a movie I might not have seen otherwise. I caught up on movies that I’d missed of his: Good Will Hunting, for example. And I enjoyed watching him on talk shows or during live performances. You never knew what was going to come out of his mouth. Some of it would be flat out hilarious, some of it would be baffling, some offensive, but you were going to be entertained by all of it. When Robin was performing, you entered into his stream of consciousness world, where anything might happen at any moment.
Hearing of his death was far more upsetting than I would have anticipated ahead of time, especially when the general circumstances of it came to light. I’m not sure why it’s so sad on such a personal level, other than his films have been a part of my life for so long and he was still so young that I hadn’t seen this coming at all.
I don’t really have much to add to anything that’s been said elsewhere, but I wanted to take a moment on my blog to thank Robin Williams for the influence he had on my life and for the entertainment he brought into it. He will be missed.