The news today that Mr. Williams has passed away is nothing short of devastating, and I never really imagined how his death would affect me until now. Robin Williams was always bigger than the roles he inhabited, and his characters were always raw, leaving a mark that I always found myself coming back to as I watched his films again and again.
For starters, I grew up on Mork & Mindy. As a little boy I was obsessed with that strange, child-like, and out-of-place character from another world. And after that, Robin Williams was always in and out of my life as I grew up, in roles that always made me think of the man behind the wild characters. They were emotional standouts who always seemed out of place, but somehow deeply connected at the same time.
While I grieve over the idea of watching almost any of his films, it will always be Dead Poets Society, Birdcage, August Rush, Bicentennial Man, Patch Adams, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, and even Jumanji that have touched me the most.
Those films, and one other.
From the charming romance with Tinker Bell, to Peter’s fight with Hook himself, the movie was packed with charm and wit, and if there ever was a film that personified the man I imagined Robin Williams to be, it was Hook. Growing up at the time, and rewatching the film in my 20s, I always identified with Williams as this Peter Banning fellow, who was all grown up, but still felt, at least a bit, like a child inside.
I feel richer for remembering Williams as the man who showed me, at least on some level, that you don’t necessarily have to grow up just because you’re getting older. And that “shazbot” is sometimes the right word for the situation, including right now.
But it feels wrong to end this note with anything but… “O captain, my captain!”
Photo credit: Unknown, Mork & Mindy.