Robin Williams has always been a part of my life. One of the earliest proper TV shows I remember watching was Mork and Mindy, about a strange guy with a name like mine who happened to be an alien and was just trying to figure out how this crazy world and the people in it worked. He was sincere and silly and hopeful all at once, and that was ok. I haven’t seen nearly all his movies but he made an impact in me which so many roles over the years in Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin and even Peter Pan. The roles he chose and the performances he gave provided humanity and pointed us to what is truly important in life.
I actually saw him once. It was when I was in university, sitting on the steps inside the Eaton Centre for some reason, waiting for someone I suppose. It was during the Toronto Film Festival so it wasn’t strange to see actors but there he was, Robin Williams, in a full scruffy beard, walking across the second floor by the elevators with four bags of shopping. A young couple stopped in front of him and said hello, asking for an autograph. He smiled, put down his bags and shook their hands. He chatted for a minute, signed their paper and moved on. Part of me wanted to run up and tell him how awesome he was. But, he was just a normal person trying to get through his day. Just seeing him that way made me feel I knew just a little bit better.
He was weird and funny and torn and broken and totally brilliant, like all the good ones are. He could never be anything but himself, even when it made people uncomfortable. We can all learn from that. He was a light in the darkness even though the darkness overwhelmed him in the end. The world will be quieter and less weird without him, and that’s a bad thing.
Nanu nanu Robin.