When I was a kid, Robin Williams was my favourite actor. I loved his earnest, joyful performances, tinged with pathos and vulnerability; his funny moments were always just as good as his emotional ones. I would watch and re-watch Patch Adams, Bicentennial Man, Jumanji, Aladdin, and Mrs Doubtfire, finding immense comfort in his reassuring, dadly presence.
When I was a teen, I was faintly embarrassed by this fact. It's not cool to enjoy sincerity; teens are generally far more interested in cynicism and satire. Even having a favourite actor is kind of uncool. I distanced myself from the things I loved, but I never stopped loving them.
As an adult, I'm proud that I was able to recognise Robin Williams' talent at any age. He was brilliant. He was one-of-a-kind. When news of his sudden death broke, it broke my heart — a world without his gentleness and humour seemed a little darker.
His love for video games lives on, of course, just as his incredible filmography does: in the trailers that he recorded for Nintendo, in a tribute character in Breath of the Wild, and in his daughter, Zelda — named for the princess.
When Skyward Sword came out originally in 2011, Robin Williams (and Zelda) recorded a trailer for the game, in which Robin told his daughter, "you have a lot to learn before you become a master". Like the rest of his work, it's a goofy, silly, but heartfelt moment; you can feel his affection for her radiating out despite the trailer only being 30 seconds long (and half of that is game footage).
In October 2011, Robin and Zelda played the DSiWare re-release of Four Swords Adventures together, in which they have a bet — and Robin loses, being forced to shave off his magnificent beard, and instantly transforming from "fluffy dad Robin Williams" to "hey, that's the guy from that movie!"
Earlier in the same year (they probably recorded all of these ads at the same time), Robin and Zelda had also teamed up for a duo of adverts for the release of Ocarina of Time 3D, which are achingly sweet — over shots of Link exploring Hyrule, Robin says "for you, I travelled to the four corners of the world," and it's only when we cut from game footage to Robin and Zelda on the sofa that we realise he was talking about a different Zelda.
"Dad — are you mixing me up with the princess again?"
"Hard to say... You're both pretty magical."
It's a touching bit of dialogue that's followed with a chuckle from both, as they hold hands on the sofa — a moment that feels like a glimpse into their relationship, despite the fact that it was most likely scripted.
But that's just how Robin Williams is in my mind: his warmth and kindness weren't manufactured. He worked them into whichever character he was playing, and although his legacy is as a comedian, I'll always remember him for the way he brought an ocean's worth of depth to everything. The world is a little less colourful without him in it, but thank goodness he left so much of himself behind.
Happy birthday, Robin. We miss you.
Miss him..and his humor
He always brought a certain warmth to any project he was involved in. Good Morning Vietnam is also one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever watched, the level of improvisation is off the charts.
Great article. I personally have memory of him in Hook. Though he was a wonderful Genie as well.
I had managed to forget… but reading this, it hit me like a brick. He will forever be missed.
Legend who brought so much joy in the world. Good will hunting Is a superb performance showcasing his abilities. Xxx
That's great. I'm happy to read this. I knew he loved Zelda and videogames, but didn't know about the ads. They are heartwarming.
I've always loved Mork and Mindy (I have a DVD set), Patch Adams (I've pushed for Medicare for all in the U.S., and my parents told me about hearing the real Patch Adams speak to an audience), Mrs. Doubtfire, the painterly movie about the afterlife and mental health, his incredible stand up routines, and probably a bunch of other things he did that I can't remember right now.
What a wonderful guy. It's good to remember him.
Oh yeah, Good Will Hunting and Good Morning Vietnam! Those are so good! Probably everything will get mentioned in this comments section.
He seemed like a great man. Miss his energy
Still saddens me to think about how he left this world.
But all I'd have to do is watch any of his performances, and he'd put a smile right back on my face. Man had a true gift for that.
Just goes to show you never know what's happening beneath the surface, a great man, father and actor.
Mr. Williams was, IMHO, the funniest person who lived during my lifetime, and he went too soon. RIP.
I always loved that he was a video game fanatic. For a long time, video games were treated as this niche thing only little boys enjoyed. Now adults playing video games is not uncommon. Still, for some reason they are treated as "toys" and not the behemoth they have become (higher grossing than movies, pro sports and music).
I have a friend who works in Hollywood and met Williams a while back. He told me Robin Williams was a very modest man in real life, devoted to his family and friends. He's very missed.
One of the few celebrities that hit me hard when he passed away. I was being treated for depression at the time as well so hit a raw nerve. I personally really miss him and think his range of acting was truly something special. The world according to Garp and one hour photo are truly brilliant examples of this.
Great actor. Flubber
What a loss in everyone's lives. Few funnier people have ever walked this Earth. I hope he's happy and doing his thing wherever he is.
When I found out that Robin Williams named his daughter Zelda and that he played games, it was one of those moments that helped make me realise that being a gamer was actually cool.
Before that I always thought I was a bit of a sad loner with a hobby I loved but that most didn’t understand. It was because I respected Robin so much as an actor/comedian that I was encouraged by his love for games. And when I had people tell me games were uncool I would respond, “well Robin Williams plays games and even named his daughter Zelda.”
Nowadays gaming is accepted in broader society and there are tons of famous people who game. But it was people like him who helped me connect to my hobby and feel good about myself. Thanks Robin.
INSOMNIA. For me the epic movie of them all. Nah, you kids will never get it. Its all right...
Have to que up my favorite Robin Williams scene of course.
Bicentennial Man was always a favorite of mine as a kid..
When I found out about his death I got a decal of his face on the back of my Explorer right below my Hylian Crest..
A true legend. He was one of those actors that had an equal talent for both comedic and dramatic performances. Couple of my favourite flicks of his are, Hook, Toys, and The Fisher King.
Poor man, He only wanted to make people laugh but inside he was crying. Let's not dwell on how he died but remember how he lived which was to bring a smile to everyone around him.
Big fan right here! He taught me that it's okay to be an adult but never let go of the kid inside.
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Don't be a jerk. Let the man rest in peace.
Love Robin Williams.
He should name his son Zak Link...
His work in Whose Line Is It Anyway is superb.
My best to his family and the fans he energized at this time of remembrance.
With that beard and a crown, he could be the king of Hyrule from BotW.
Rest in peace, King.
Thoughts are with family
@Thatsalie He will be remembered for many things, including that. Perhaps I say this for the sake of understanding:
One of my students shot himself and died two years ago in his driveway at home before a soccer game. I trained him by hand for 10 years with his fathers supervision. He was a 3rd degree black belt, and at the age of 13 could handle two of my toughest students, who were highly experienced deputy Sherrifs, with ease. He was a masterful kung fu practitioner, and shall be remembered as such, as well as remembered for the immense pain he endured before his suicide.
These topics are confusing and never simple, but pain and confusion are usually at the heart of any suicide. Please remember that, and take care of yourself and your loved ones.
The heartbreaking thing is that 500 people attended his memorial service. If only he had known how much he was admired when he was alive, perhaps he would have chosen a different path.
Like many comedians, Robin Williams hid his pain behind laughter. Ever wonder why he seemed so good at playing morose characters in some of his later movies? It's because that's who he really was. It's strange how some of the funniest people are also the saddest.
@Thatsalie you obvioustly dont understand depression or the effects it has on ones mind. Depression isnt just some ***** excuse to gain attention from people. Its a mental illness! Someone who sufferers severe depression, to the point they feel the need to take their own life doesnt even comprehend loved ones around them or the pain they will cause to others left behind. Their only thought is stopping the pain and suffering going on inside their mind. Its a desperate act to end unbearable suffering that they see no other way out of. Sure, from an outsiders point of view, suicide is a cowardly, selfish thing to do but unfortunately it isnt that clear cut when your the one suffering.
Mr Williams was a pure genius and ive enjoyed so many of his films and now enjoy sharing them with my kids. Hook, Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji to name just a few. My thoughts go out to his family at a tough time.
Robin has a special place for me and my partner. And the fact that our son shares today as his birthday is just something to help us remember him.
@Zeldafan79 @BloodNinja @Thatsalie
I find this subject quite simple. Robin tried very hard to keep others happy. That's who he was. His depression isn't who he was, it was something that happened to him, not something he did to others. He was ill. He did nothing to cause it and it could happen to anyone.
Remembering Robin should be about the joy and magic he tried to bring to the world.
Remembering his death should be about awareness of the dangers of depression and mental health. How easily it can take someone. How badly it can ruin lives. How truly invisible the illness is. And how better services are needed for the future.
@Thatsalie Respectfully, the man developed lewybody dementia and I think is deserving of empathy.
Edit - I think my favorite Robin Williams stuff was the standup. The first time I watched his standup as a teenager I was shocked. Hilarious.
I was crushed when I learned of his death. He was my favorite actor and was so funny. I miss you Robin.
His stand-up joke about golf still remains one of the times I've laughed the hardest in my life.
When I was 4, I loved the TV series Mork & Mindy. I watched it ritually, ever week it aired. Popeye hit the theaters and my mom took me to go enjoy. I didn't understand the concept of movies, of acting, it was just reality to me, so when the movie started and I saw Popeye, I knew something was up. After about 10 minutes of thinking, waaait, I'm confused here, I leaned over to my mom and said, "Why does Popeye look like Mork?" She couldn't stop laughing.
Been dealing with my son being suicidal lately. Not easy at all. Robin was a great man, and he is missed by many.
@Galaxy And in Jumanji. Also a very good movie.
Also with Skyward Sword HD released on the Switch and seeing that Skyward Sword commercial. It makes me feel all emotional again.
@Maulbert Both him and John Candy.
I was just watching clips of him as Genie. I'll always remember where I was and what I was doing when I got the word about Robin.
God, I remember them announcing his death like it was yesterday. He was one of my favorite comedians and actors, too. He had such energy when performing on stage that it was hard to keep up; only Craig Ferguson could match his speed and wit whenever Robin was a guest on Craig's iteration of The Late Late Show.
But he was also a kind-hearted man, always willing to lend an ear and crack a few jokes to make a sad person laugh. I once heard a story about a family who had just come from the funeral of a loved one, and they went to a doughnut shop in the middle of the night.
In walked Robin Williams, who saw them all dressed up and asked why they looked so sad. When they told him they had just come from a funeral, he stayed to listen to their story, and started cracking jokes (obviously, not at their expense), and got them smiling and laughing again. That story always stuck with me, and since then, I resolved to make people laugh, even if I myself was hurting on the inside, like Robin did.
He was an inspiration for me, and my only regret with him (and sorry for getting a little political here) is that he never got to see Donald Trump run for and become President of the United States; he would have had a field day, coming up with all sorts of jokes about it, and would have been guaranteed to be funny.
i miss him… i watch his movies often. he reminds my mother and me of my father. he looked very much like him.
@Galaxy Hook is one of my favourite movies, and I feel silly for not having mentioned it in this piece! It's so lovely, and a surprisingly serious role for him, which he pulls off perfectly nonetheless.
As for the topic of his death: It may have hurt many people who loved him to hear that he was no longer around, but we just don't understand the full details of the Lewy Body Dementia he was living with without having gone through it ourselves.
He was a wonderful person who valued kindness and respect, and we should honour that. Remember that there are so many people who live with degenerative diseases, chronic illness, and mental health disorders in the present, and we can still have an impact in making the world better for them today. ❤
@PoliticallyIncorrect Keep pouring on the love and understanding
RIP in peace Robin. You are missed by many. I will be thinking of you tonight when I crank up Skyward Sword.
Great article Kate.
Really love his works and how he made my childhood great but it's sad how his life ended. For any one who feel depressed or are thinking about ending your life please reach out for help first before going through with it cause once you pull the plug on your life there will be no coming back.
My Uncle worked with someone from California every now and then (iron workers) on BIG jobs and the guy went to high school with Robin Williams. He said he was so "out there and funny as hell" It seems this was part of who he truly was. NaaNoo NaaNoo. Yeah it was crushing hearing the news.
@BloodNinja I love him more than anything in this world bro. I'm a single father, and I do my very best. I'll die if I lose him.
Such a decent guy as well as being funny, i always remember he appeared with his daughter in a music video called ‘you make me feel’ by a band called Cobra Starship as they’d said they were fans of his and asked him. Mrs doubtfire would always make me and my sisters laugh.
@PoliticallyIncorrect You have to find the inner fortitude to be there for your son. You have it, I know you do, I can feel it from here. Stay strong for him.
@Meehanuk @BloodNinja Thank you so much for being supportive. I'll never forget that.
@PoliticallyIncorrect @Meehanuk You both made my day!
From Mork and Mindy to his stand up gig, live at the New York Met, the man is a legend to me and the world is a worse place without him RIP Robin, always in my heart and mind!! PS 2 of my favourite films of all time are Good Morning Vietnam and What Dreams May Come, both great films IMO!
I remember when he advertised Four Swords Anniversary Edition. Why isn't that available anymore?
Just want to point out that although Williams suffered from depression, he was deep in the throes of a rare degenerative neurological disease, and his quality of life had deteriorated significantly. He was undiagnosed until after his death. For a man like him, imagine how terrifying that must have been. Like most here, for me his death was the first celebrity death to really punch me in the chest. Often we hear "There will never be another person like xxx," and in his case it's absolutely true.
@Galaxy Should have had an Oscar for the genie. One of the best performances in history, nevermind 1992.
Robin Williams was misdiagnosed with Parkinsons and medicated for that. The meds are very harmful when given thru error. What he really had was Lewy Body Dementia. It affected his mind, his memory and his body movements. His wife has said that he was in terrible physical pain.
As in the movie Beginnings he was probably aware of what he was losing.
I won't judge the decision he made to end his life. With all the joy he gave the world he deserved peace, however he found it.
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Loved his voice acting in animated films he is one of the best
And a great actor as well
Rest in peace robin
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(crys)...But seriously i miss him he brought joy and laughter to everyone which we could use right about now at least he didnt suffer at the end cause i heard he was in early stages of perkinsons disease and others as well which he didnt want to suffer from.
When he passed away, I was devastated. Losing him felt like losing part of my childhood. May he rest in peace
Flubber Jumanji Robots Aladdin and Bicentennial Man all hold a special place in my heart.
I share my birthday with him and got to meet him once when I was in high school, he was friends with my teacher. One of the greats.
One of greatest comedic minds of my time. RIP Robin and THANK YOU for everything.
Robin Williams was a sensation soon after Mork & Mindy debuted - everyone just knew he was destined for a great career, and wow did he deliver! Another genius, gone too soon.
I hope in the end, the immeasurable laughter and love he generated in life eased his suffering and sustains his family in their grief. Happy Birthday ❤️
There’s nothing I can say about the man that hasn’t already been said, but I do want to offer some praise to his amazingly talented daughter. In recent memory, Zelda’s performance as Amaya in the 2015 King’s Quest reboot is stellar and instantly made her one of my favorite characters in the game. It’s overall very Legend of Zelda-esque and well worth a shot if you have access to non-Nintendo platforms!
I loved Robin. I looked up to him. I appreciated his presence in the world. I can still remember exactly where I was when I learned of his death, and I still miss him. Thanks very much for the piece, @KateGray.
Hook is one of my top 5 movies of all time, and everything Robin did was magical. Be it an animated genie, a cross dressed nanny, an alien, or a teacher. All amazing performances. And I use to listen to his stand up comedy Live on Broadway before bed every night, alongside Richard Pryor stand ups.
I never knew him personally, but I was absolutely gut wrenched when I found out about his passing.
And while we may never see another one of his infectious smiles, the performances and movies he made will continue to make others smile for generations to come.
@KateGray Absolutely agreed. Not enough awareness for mental illness.
🥲 He was my favorite. I grew up with his movies. Hook, Popeye, Jumanji, Toys, Aladin, Furngully. His eyes could see right through you, but he’d rather make you laugh. He is missed, and I’m glad he’s associated with games I love too, even if it’s mostly marketing. It’s a sad shame he got Lewy body dementia. My best wishes with his family, always.
I absolutely agree with you there - Insomnia is an amazing film!
Amongst my favourite comedians growing up. So, so endearing. He is missed.
This is a lovely tribute. Thank you.
His performance in the Fisher King made me realise what an outstanding actor he was. As well as all the blockbuster movies he did obviously 😋
One of my favorites! Heartbreaking ending to a comical genius! Depression is such a beast!!! Aladdin, Garp, Doubtfire, Vietnam, RV, Patch Adams, The Birdcage are some of my favorites! His Stand up was awesome & hilarious and he also proved himself a very versatile actor for Dramas like Insomnia, Awakenings, and One Hour Photo! Can’t believe it’s 7 years already!!
Really nice tribute to a legendary comedian and person. He really did always seem like a cool guy and the persona he displayed in movies I think reflected his genuine goodness. I can especially relate to Kate when during my teen years I was forced to outgrow the Robin Williams brand of comedy since there were apparently more "cool" stuff in high school. When I became an adult though I revisited the awesome movies that I cherished as a child. Can't recall how many times I got teary eyed over Jack. Flubber and Mrs Doubtfire made me laugh so hard, and Jumanji was one of the best adventure movies made IMO. Rest easy Mr. Williams!
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