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ROBIN WILLIAMS (1951-2014)

August 11th, 2014, Robin Williams was taken from this world at 63 years old. Throughout my childhood, Williams had a direct line to my funny bone. At certain points in the early 90’s, I could recite verbatim any of his lines in ALADDIN. While anyone’s death is tragic, I am not usually moved by a celebrity death, as I do not know these people personally. They are, in a way, part of my life through my love (some might call obsession) of movies. But they are not physically in my life and, as a result, I’m not normally moved. But this loss made me shed a tear and though Williams is known for being one of the best comedians in history, it was his dramatic roles that will stick with me most.


As Adrian Cronauer in GOOD MORNING VIETNAM, Williams taught us to stay positive and find the humour in any situation, even when that situation is the horrible war in Vietnam. The real Adrian Cronauer (now a lawyer and politician) was nothing like what was portrayed in the film. They needed Williams to bring another level of relatability to the character and he responded by ad-libbing all of the broadcasts. These broadcasts were so good that they were even included on the film’s soundtrack, which remains to this day one of the best in my collection.


As Professor John Keating in DEAD POETS SOCIETY, Williams taught us to seize the day (as well as the tiniest little bit of latin). Though there were some major names up for the role (Dustin Hoffman, Liam Neeson, Bill Murray), Williams ultimately won the part and brought an energy to the role that he wished he had seen while he was going to school. Even though this movie is known for the phrase, “O Captain, my captain”, the sentiment I always liked most was, ”No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

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As Sean Maguire in GOOD WILL HUNTING, for which Williams won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, he taught us to let our past remain in the past so that we can succeed in the future. While researching Williams since hearing the news of his death, his ad-libbing was discussed for almost every one of his movies. This Oscar winning screenplay was no exception either. One of my favourite scenes has Williams describing his wife farting in her sleep (not in the script). He not only had star, Matt Damon, earnestly laughing in the scene, but if you look close enough, you can even see the camera shake at one point because the crew was also clearly in hysterics.

As Chris Nielsen in the underrated WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, he taught us the importance of finding our soulmate. In this journey, he fights his way through heaven and hell for the most important cause one can fight for. The name of this movie is a quote from Hamlet: “To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil.” This quote has been sticking with me since I heard that Williams was gone.


I don’t know much about depression; I cannot begin to understand what goes on in the heads of those suffering from it or what makes someone want to leave a world where you have a wife and three kids. I don’t know how someone who has given so many people so much joy cannot find any for himself. Let us hope that this unfortunate loss ends up doing some good in the world by showing people with depression that they are not alone, that people will miss them if they go. Maybe not millions of people but sometimes all it takes is one. And with that, I pray Williams finds the peace in death that he couldn’t find in life and that the dreams that come in this sleep are more pleasant than the ones he had here.

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