I'm going to take a detour from the usual stuff to comment a little on Robin Williams, who died yesterday from an apparent suicide attempt at 63 years old. I didn't see everything he did, but I caught most of it. From Mork and Mindy to one of his 80s standup routines to several of his movie roles. I almost always found his work enjoyable and hilarious. He became an excellent dramatic actor as well, winning as Oscar for Good Will Hunting and turning in some more Oscar-worthy performances in Good Morning, Vietnam and Dead Poets Society. And his turn as a twisted kids show host in Death to Smoochy was of the most underrated dark comedies out there. I remember hearing rumors several years ago that he might play the Riddler in a Batman flick, and was hoping that would happen. Robin as Edward Nygma would have been gold. While I did like the job Jim Carrey did (Batman Forever is a guilty pleasure of mine), I would have loved to see Robin get a shot at it. But even without that, the work he did do onscreen was more than enough for me.
Even though I didn't know the man personally, it is sad to hear this news. Robin Williams battled substance abuse for a long time and suffered from depression. As anyone who deals with it themselves or has a loved one who does will tell you, depression is a daily struggle. There's no miracle cure, no magic elixir that will just make it go away. It's there in perpetuity and you manage it as best as you can. If nothing else positive comes out of this, hopefully this will spark some greater discussion about depression and substance abuse and help remove some of the stigma around it. From all the celebrity tributes I've seen over the past 24 hours it at least seems like he was one of the guys and was willing to help others in the business, whether they were veterans or newbies. It's always good to hear about famous people who treat others well. I remember watching his standup performance at the Met back in the late 80s/early 90s, and being totally enthralled by it. I don't remember any of the jokes, but I remember that he had this kind of manic unpredictability that drew you in like a magnet. The same was true when he went on the nighttime talk shows; you just had no idea what was going to come out of his mouth.
Do I have a favorite movie of his? Not really. I liked several of them; if I had to pick I'd go with Good Will Hunting. It wasn't a comedic role, but he was in a position of being the biggest name in a movie starring relative newbie Matt Damon and had to provide a proper foil to Damon's boy genius. He did it well enough to get an Oscar.
RIP, Robin Williams and thank you for all the laughs and the memories.