More Than Comedy: The Serious Side Of Robin Williams
Known best for his role in comedies, Robin Williams was also a skilled feature-film actor with some highly credible performances to his name.
Fans across the globe have been shocked and saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of American actor and stand-up comedian, Robin Williams. The beloved Hollywood actor, 63, was found unresponsive at his home in Tiburon, California on Monday (11th Aug) after an apparent suicide by asphyxiation. Tributes have been pouring in from family, friends and the acting community as people come to terms with the difficult death of a Hollywood hero.
Robin Williams passed away aged 63 on Monday (11th August) [Getty/Frazer Harrison]
Williams was, of course, known for his comic ability and his stand-up talents on stage. But he used his mimicry and ability to make people laugh in all areas of his life: one example in particular detailed by his Julliard performing arts school classmate, Christopher Reeve.
Following Reeve’s career-ending accident Williams visited him in hospital, an encounter Reeve wrote about in his book, Still Me.
"Then, at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist, and that he had to examine me immediately...it was Robin Williams...for the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay."
Some of Williams’ most famous roles were comedy, Mrs Doubtfire is a loved classic, but he was also a very talented feature-film actor and could undertake a serious role as competently as an actor who devoted their whole life to that particular genre. Here’s a look at some of his more serious roles.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Robin Williams won an Academy Award for his role in Good Will Hunting
A film unable to be overlooked when detailing the successful careers of both Robin Williams and Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting earned Williams an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and garnered universal critical acclaim.
Based on Damon’s title character, Will Hunting, Williams plays Sean Maguire in the film, a therapist that Hunting, a mathematical genius, is required to see as part of a deferred prosecution agreement after assaulting an officer.
What follows is a masterclass in the perfect screenplay and perfect acting as Sean tries to steer Will away from his fear of failure and into success and Will allows Sean to open up about his own difficulties after losing his wife.
The film was a critical and box office hit and Williams was praised in particular for his performance.
One Hour Photo (2002)
Robin Williams played Sy Parrish in psychological thriller, One Hour Photo
Williams takes the lead role in this psychological thriller as photo technician, Sy Parrish, for which he won a Saturn Award for Best Actor.
Lonely and friendless, Sy Parrish lives his life vicariously through his customers’ pictures, in particular the Yorkin family, for whom he has been processing images for 20 years.
He develops an unhealthy obsession with the family, printing extra pictures of their life for himself. Through their pictures he eventually discovers something that shatters his view of their perfect family and tries to rectify the injustices using the only way he knows how: with his camera.
The film received positive reviews, particularly from notable critics such as Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin.
Jumanji became the tenth-highest grossing film of 1995
While not an entirely serious film, this fantasy adventure is definitely one for the shelf of any child raised in the 1990s.
Centred around the Jumanji board, the film starts off in 1969 when 12-year-old Alan Parrish and his friend Sarah Whittle begin an innocent game. Only two moves later, Alan has been sucked into the jungle world of Jumanji, not to appear again until 26 years later when siblings, Judy and Peter, take their turn and Parrish is released back into the real world as Robin Williams.
While not your typical action hero, Williams’ character fights off gigantic spiders, crocodile-infested waters and game-hunter, Van Pelt, with skill and excitement and the film became the tenth-highest grossing movie of 1995 as a result.
Dead Poet’s Society (1989)
Dead Poet's Society was nominated for numerous awards
Another critically acclaimed film that was nominated for numerous awards, Williams portrays English teacher, John Keating, who inspires struggling students of an elite prep school to reach their potential through his unique teaching of poetry.
Often regarded as one of his best roles, Williams was praised by The Washington Post, amongst others, for a ‘nicely restrained acting performance’.
He received his second Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Next page: Another of Robin Williams' superb serious roles