Like many people my age, my first encounter with Robin Williams would have been watching either Mrs Doubtfire or Aladdin. Mrs Doubtfire is one of my favourite films purely because of Williams’s performance. The concept of the film alone was probably a big risk for the studio; but with an actor like Williams at the helm, who gave everything to the camera and his performance; the end product was a work of brilliance, demonstrating Williams’s variety and energy as a performer.
Similarly, the character of the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin is the thing that makes the film one of the greatest animated Disney films of the 90’s, (known as The Disney Renaissance Era). When I watch Aladdin, it is always clear to me that Williams left his own mark on the finished film with moments of genius in the dialogue that couldn’t possibly have been scripted, only improvised by Williams in the moment. I learnt in an interview that improvising is a trait Williams was famous for; he created complete characters from improvising for the DreamWorks films Happy Feet 1 & 2, which again demonstrates his intelligence and creativity.
More recently I have seen Williams in more serious roles, including films such as One Hour Photo, Insomnia and Good Morning, Vietnam. These performances demonstrated Williams’s ability to take on the genre of Drama. The subtlety of his performance as a people and photograph watcher in One Hour Photo is what makes the audience feel both terror and sympathy for his character, and it is one of my favourite performances of Williams.
As someone trying to make it into the world of professional acting myself, I have always looked at Robin Williams as an inspirational figure. His ability to be in the moment and to not be afraid to look ridiculous is what made him a phenomenal actor. I feel what most people will be shocked to learn is that his suicide was fuelled by severe depression. The Happy-Go-Lucky persona we all recognise and love when we think of Robin Williams demonstrates what a colossal actor he was.