August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, 1951-2014: 5 films to remember him by...
by James
James

by James Forryan

hmv London; 12/08/2014

Bio

"Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

Robin Williams was an actor and comedian who touched the lives of millions, making us laugh, cry and laugh some more. His talent has endeared him to all generations and he will no doubt be remembered to different people for different reasons, from his early breakthrough roles in shows like Happy Days and Mork & Mindy, to his memorable appearances in more than 100 films.

To celebrate the life of a man whose sole purpose was to entertain, we've picked five of his finest moments on the big screen.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams, you will be sadly missed.

Good Morning, Vietnam

Good Morning, Vietnam

(1987)

The film that really launched Williams' film career, his charismatic performance as unorthodox DJ Adrian Cronauer is the central lynchpin to Barry Levinson's 1987 movie. Williams' larger-than-life portrayal is the perfect fit for an armed forces radio DJ who is immensely popular with the the troops, but not so much with the army's top brass.

At equal turns hilariously funny and incredibly moving, Levinson's film benefits hugely from the nuanced performance Williams gives as the loudmouth DJ who is determined to show the darker side of the Vietnam conflict as well as lift the spirits of the soldiers and civilians embroiled in it. One of his strongest moments ever on the silver screen.

Dead Poets Society

Dead Poets Society

(1989)

Williams' next big film after Good Morning, Vietnam, Peter Weir's 1989 picture saw him playing the role of English teacher John Keating, a passionate literary enthusiast and an anti-establishment figure who wins the hearts and minds of his students by encouraging them to be themselves and reject the accepted standards of writing and critical thought.

One of his most iconic roles, Dead Poets Society is another example of Williams' huge range as an actor. All together now: “O Captain, my captain...”

Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire

(1993)

There can be no Robin Williams Top 5 without Mrs. Doubtfire and for many his role in Christopher Columbus' 1993 film is the one that defines his career as a comedy actor. When screenwriter and father of two Daniel Hillard goes through a bitter and messy divorce, he is refused access to the thing he loves most – his children. Enter the ingenious Mrs. Doubtfire, a Scottish nanny appointed to take care of the children.

The film's plot may be the work of author Anne Fine, but the Mrs. Doubtfire we know and love from the film is all Robin Williams. He brings the character to life in his own inimitable way and the film's finely mixture of slapstick humour and heartbreak is testament to Williams' brilliance as a comedy actor.

One Hour Photo

One Hour Photo

(2002)

If there was any doubt in anyone's mind about whether Robin Williams only did comedy, any misgivings should be well and truly forgotten after seeing One Hour Photo. In a very different role to the other on our list, Williams plays the lonely employee of a photo development lab in a supermarket, Seymour 'Sy' Parrish. Things take a turn for the creepy when he takes an unhealthy interest in one family, fantasising about being a family member and even stealing copies of their family holiday snaps.

Williams performance is an unsettling one but it shows his versatility as an actor and his work in Mark Romanek's film shows he was just as capable at playing the darker side of characters as he was at making an audience laugh.

Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting

(1997)

Williams' role as the psychiatrist Sean Maguire in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's film shows that there was more to his ability as an actor than playing it for laughs. Gus van Sant directs this tale of a young, brilliant mind brought up in a broken home and denied the economic advantages his ability deserves, and when teacher and mathematician Professor Lambeau doesn't know what else to do with him he takes him to Maguire.

Williams' character is a complex one who is himself dealing with grief over the loss of his wife, but the performance from the actor is spot on and really turns the film into something special, earning him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and winning a Best Screenplay award for the writers.