We’ve already touched on our love for the movie which gave this site its name, but we now feel it necessary and appropriate to celebrate the life and work of Robin Williams, the icon who helped make Good Will Hunting so great. I won’t use this space to go on and on about depression and its sickly cunning nature, for others will do so in a far more eloquent manner, but I will try to wrap my head around what made Williams so special.
I wasn’t alive to appreciate Williams as he rose to superstardom, but his movies have left profound marks on my mind and heart as I age and grow. He won as deserved an Oscar as there has ever been for Good Will Hunting, but his performances achieved rarer levels of success in their ability to deeply affect our ways of thinking and living. Dead Poets Society taught me to live fully, to make the most of each day, opportunity, and interaction, and of course produced a truly iconic movie moment. Good Morning, Vietnam and Patch Adams find light in the dark recesses of human experiences only because of Williams’ willingness to think and act and entertain in absolutely unique ways. He was weird in Toys and Insomnia and August Rush and numerous other films, but he was always the star you couldn’t help but watch and long to hang out with, stealing every scene he’s in in Aladdin, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, and most of his other work.
Williams was the type of entertainer so prolific and consistently entertaining that it’s impossible to remember offhand just how many times he made you laugh and think, making otherwise underwhelming things like Hamlet, Robots, Flubber, RV, and Night at the Museum worth watching. A leisurely scroll through his IMDb page may remind you just how involved he was in shaping your sense of humor and fun. With regard to GWH, the movie that inspired our name and — more importantly — our love for movies, Williams took the film to the next level, from a charming character study to a timeless classic. Sean Maguire as a character allowed Williams to use some of his trademark wit while also tapping into his well of overall talent. Though the award-winning role seems far different than most of his work, it perhaps best encapsulates what made him so likable. Williams knew and encouraged that film and television and comedy are vehicles by which we can express hope, that “comedy is acting out optimism.” One cannot let his self-inflicted departure color this sentiment. Williams took seriously his task of making our lives a little brighter, but he never took himself to be anything more than a man on a screen hoping to draw some smiles.
He leaves behind about a million hilarious and poignant jokes, and perhaps even more people and bits inspired by his relentless commitment to humor and uplift. This loss leaves a sizable hole in the world of comedy, but Williams leaves behind far too many great moments and characters for us to allow the sadness to endure. Perhaps he could no longer bear the weight of bringing light to the cynics and downers; to be fair, that burden would prove too onerous for anyone, given the dark places and people constantly threatening to blot out the light in our world. Williams leaves us sooner than we would like, but we’ll always have his words, characters, and the endless smiles he brings to our faces. It seems that’s all he ever wanted.