RIP Robin Williams (1951-2014)

By August 11, 2014

The world has lost one of its funniest and most talented performers. Variety reports that actor Robin Williams was found dead today in his California home. The cause of death “is believed to be suicide via asphyxiation.”

This loss really hurts. I’ll spare you the whole biography retread because everybody knows who Robin Williams was: the dude was one of the biggest movie stars on the entire planet, and it’s painful knowing that we won’t get a chance to see him blast across the big screen with his trademark zaniness again.

As a child of the ’90s, Williams’ work meant a lot to me. I grew up listening to his hysterical vocal performance in Aladdin and Ferngully, seeing him play an older Peter Pan in Hook (which I still contend is a legitimately great performance from Williams), witness him come out of a board game in Jumanji, and of course, watching him crossdress in Mrs. Doubtfire. He had an incredible theatricality about him, and Williams was one of the defining figures of my childhood as I consumed a steady diet of films.

As I grew up, I started seeking out more of his adult material, including Good Morning, Vietnam, his Oscar winning work in Good Will Hunting, and Death to Smoochy. I realized he was much more than just a bombastic physical actor – he was gifted in a far more subtle way when he wanted to be, and his transition from comedy into drama provided an excellent way for him to stretch some different acting muscles and show audiences he had a much larger range than many gave him credit for.

His output in recent years hasn’t exactly aligned with my current cinematic tastes, and I never saw his work on the CBS series “The Crazy Ones.” Sure, he had some pretty awful movies mixed into his filmography, but it’s almost impossible to find someone as prolific as Williams with a “perfect record” when it comes to quality (and that’s obviously a subjective thing, anyway). The thing that mattered was that he delivered performances that connected with people on a visceral level: he could cause a primal, uncontrollable laugh or make you tear up in equal measure. He was a brilliant performer and one of the funniest people out there, and his giant smile could light up an entire theater.

Williams is survived by his wife and three children, and he will be deeply, deeply missed.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at,,,, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.