Wednesday, August 13, 2014

(Movies) Robin Williams: The World Loses A Comic Genius

Upon hearing of the death or Robin Williams, the only question I had in my mind interspersed with the shock of the news his passing was the only any real writer worth the title should ask: why. Why a man who specialized in putting smiles on many a face and warmth in the coldest heart for over forty years would take his own life by hanging himself after attempts to slash his wrist.

This central tragic irony gnawed at me and i'm sure everybody else that a man who could somehow give you pathos and comedic energy all in one go could succumb to his own demons. It's hard to imagine that Williams, though troubled, would see his death as viable option. It's even harder picture such a man taking his own life when he had spent it inspiring other to laugh and enjoy theirs. 

Williams has had bouts with alcoholism and drug addiction and has over the years been refreshingly forthcoming about his demons. Reports suggest that Williams had money troubles owing to alimony owed to his two ex-wives and had been forced take roles to pay bills. Williams confirmed as much in a 2010 interview with The Guardian explaining why he took roles in movies that were notable for all the wrong reasons[1].

Williams had resorted to selling some of his assets to ease his money problem as according to the Telegraph:

 “For the past two years he had been trying to sell his ranch in the Napa Valley near San Francisco, saying: “I just can’t afford it any more”.  Despite dropping the asking price from £21m to £17.8m, there had been no takers. He had even resorted to selling some of his collection of 50 bicycles to raise cash”[2].
The effort to deal with his money problems were also taking it’s toll on Williams as “One neighbour who saw him in the days before his death said he had become “a shell of himself” and looked “drawn and thin””[3].

Williams also recently went back into rehab to deal with his recurring addiction to alcohol just last month with his spokesman said “was to “fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment” to staying sober”[4].

However, to our and Robin Williams detriment, we were to find out that his recent attempts to battle his long term battle against addiction and depression was to be in vain. 

All that’s left now is our many memories of him doing what he did best, entertain. Many of my fondest cinematic memories are of Williams energy and range from his still memorable vocal performance as the genie in Aladdin, his funny yet heart-warming turn as a dad reconnecting with his family through a certain Scottish child-minder to his Oscar winning performance as a therapist doing all he can to stop a young but arrogant genius from squandering his talent.

In sum, we’ve lost one of the great ones and we’re all poorer for it.

[1] D. Aitkenhead, 2010, Robin Williams: ‘I was shameful, did stuff that caused disgust – that’s hard to recover from’,
[2] N. Allen et al, 2014, Robin Williams had ‘serious money troubles’ before his death,
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid

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