From his searing performance as Tommy Wilhelm in 1986’s often overlooked “Seize the Day,” based on Chicago author Saul Bellow’s novel of the same name to his Teddy Roosevelt in another “Night at the Museum” film soon to be released, Robin Williams could play a role.
Wonder if he was playing one all his life.
For somebody to give that much for that long, there had to be impossible efforts to bring it down, to hush the outside, to be himself. In those rare moments of quiet when he could bring it down, he must have brought it really down, because when he cranked it up, my God, there was nobody and nothing like him.
He was a force of nature, which I think he knew.
He’d go to a restaurant, and people would clamor at him to say something funny, when all he might have wanted to do was tuck into his salad. His mentor, Jonathon Winters, talked about facing the same pressure to be crazy all the time, prodded continually to act nuts. It’s the kind of thing that could drive you crazy for real.
When you look at his body of work, from the live-action stuff to the incredibly spot-on animation voices which brought to life blue genies and goofy penguins, you can’t help but be cowed.
I have to admit that apart from that aforementioned 1986 film, which is underrated and phenomenal, I kind of dug his “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
Watch him play with plastic dinosaurs in that scene when he thinks nobody is watching, and you get a sense of the boy who could live all day in his imagination. But it was those damned nights, boy, that’s when the real demons showed up. He did battle with them all the time.
Of course I’m going to be drawn to his impression of a hot dog in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” It’s pure genius for five seconds. Watch his expression, which looks like a hot dog, neither sad nor happy to be a hot dog, just being a hot dog. Watch the light go out of his eyes for just a moment, totally committed to the role, and then watch the twinkle come back.
Man, I wish we could bring that twinkle back.
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