The first time I ever saw Robin Williams like most people my age was on television as Mork from Ork in “Mork and Mindy”. My parents would let me stay up past my bedtime to watch it. I remember being fascinated by an alien who looked like a man, yet I didn’t even know what an alien was to begin with. But I loved watching that man act crazy.
The next time I would see him was on the big screen in the underrated classic “Popeye” directed by Robert Altman. It was the first time he was given a chance to carry a film and he did so with a perfect blend of humor and wit. It’s still to this day has one of my favorite movie fight scenes with him against a group of thugs.
I remember my parents following his career as I recall watching more than once films like “The Survivors”, “The Best of Times” and arguably my favorite film of his, “The World According to Garp” directed by George Roy Hill. I remember loving this movie so much. It took me on an emotional roller-coaster ride. I had to be 8 or 9 when I watched it, and I am certain I was too young to see it. It was my first coming-of-age movie before I knew what that was. My parents would make me close my eyes for the nudity, and I didn’t know what his wife was doing with that college student, I just knew it was wrong. But watching a man’s entire life pour out in the span of two hours was incredible to me. As I grew older I love it even more than I did then.
Williams would go on to others fantastic performances, in “Good Moring Vietnam”, “Dead Poets Society”, “Awakenings”, and the phenomenal Terry Gilliam classic “The Fisher King”. These roles were special because of his ability to make you both laugh and cry in the same film, which was a rarity then as much as it is now. He could always bring the funny as the next generation would see in “Aladdin”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, and “The Birdcage”. From the mid 90’s he began playing supporting characters with some stand out roles most notably as Sean in “Good Will Hunting” which won him an Oscar. Again a dramatic role that pushes him dramatically and still manages to make you laugh, you can see in his fart story that he really got Matt Damon going, there was no acting there, it was simply one man making another man laugh.
This was what he excelled at, every time I saw him on TV he was at eleven. I guess it’s hard to come down when you stay that high, it’s something you tend not to think about as I knew little of his personal life, like so many others who loved watching him perform, no one could make me laugh like him. His “Live on Broadway” special in 2002 was one I will never forget. His bit on the invention of golf is brilliant, and his talk of oral sex actually cased me physical pain. I remember waking up the next morning and wondering why my side was hurting so much.
I am sad to see him go, and to go the way he did. I will miss the life he brought to everything he did on screen. I will miss Robin Williams. The man who made me laugh. The man who made me cry. I will remember. Everything.
–Robert L. Castillo