Robin Williams: Our Favourite Performances

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“You don’t know about real loss because it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.”

– Robin Williams as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting

By Jordan and Eddie on 15/08/2014

It was shocking and extremely sad news this week when the world heard about the tragic passing of one of the great comedians and at times underrated actors of this generation in the form of Robin Williams.

Both Jordan and Eddie have fond memories of Williams (as all film fans would) from early childhood through to adulthood, ranging from his appearances in hit TV shows through to his hit comedies or equally successful serious projects.

When you scour through Williams filmography the gravity of what he achieved in his career truly hits you and you begin to understand just what type of impact he had on the industry. From voice work in hit Disney movies (Aladdin), comedic genius in box office behemoths (Mrs. Doubtfire) through to life affirming tales (Dead Poets Society) Williams has done it all.

While Williams output has over the past few years become somewhat less impactful with his projects, his legacy is that his unique talent to entertain, move and inspire will live long in the top echelons of movie history and a fond place in our memories which is the highest feat for entertainers to attain.

Listed here are 6 films which showcase his undeniable talent and charm, chosen by both of us as our personal favourites.

The childhood classic Jumunji, making everyone wish they had a board game this exciting

The childhood classic Jumanji, making everyone wish they had a board game this exciting

Jordan’s overview:

Jumanji. Enough said. That movie was one of the most watched of my childhood and is still an exciting adventure for kids to delve head first into. Robin Williams, of course, had comedic timing that lent itself to more mature projects as well, but it was his manic energy that I will remember most fondly, perhaps encapsulated best in his much cheered about appearance on the American Whose Line is it Anyway? He was a fine actor, and an exceptional comedian.

Eddie’s overview:

It’s so hard to talk about Robin Williams and not remember the impact he had on my childhood with films such as the endlessly re-watchable Hook, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Flubber the list goes on. Williams was that rare entertainer that not only could appeal to me as a child but as I grew up I discovered such touching gems as Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting even the Fisher King. These films showcased truly what Williams was – an all-round entertainer. A genius comic, a deep thinking actor and a human being willing to showcase us for what we all are, a flawed and at times conflicted creature. We all have a favourite Robin Williams film and I think that’s a tell-tale sign of what an impact he had on the industry. Picking a mere 3 performances was no easy feat so I snuck in a draw at pick number 3.

Jordan’s 3 Favourite Robin Williams performances –

The voice work of Williams in Disney's Aladdin can't be underestimated.

The voice work of Williams in Disney’s Aladdin can’t be underestimated.

 3. Genie: Aladdin (1992)

Helping to bring voice work into the realm of celebrity, William’s Genie remains one of the most instantly recognizable characters based on dialogue to this day, and Aladdin wouldn’t be the classic it is without him.

2. Alan Parrish: Jumanji (1995)

His performance may not be anything extraordinary, but he holds this fun film together like only he could, often playing it straight when needed and being the anchor in bringing an outlandish world to life.

1. Mork: Mork & Mindy (1978 – 1982)

The beginning of the genius. Mork & Mindy is a comedy series more refreshing and constantly funny than television history has given it credit for, and watching it now its so clear to see why a generation defining actor emerged.

Eddie’s 3 Favourite Robin Williams Performances –

Hook - post

Williams at his charming best in the extremely fun Hook

3. Seymour Parrish and Lance: One Hour Photo (2002) and Worlds Greatest Dad (2009)

Two outstanding performances in two equally small and challenging films, Williams in One Hour Photo completely melted into the role of creepy photo lab worker Seymour in what was arguably his most intense role while as Lance in Bobcat Goldthwait’s dark comedy World’s Greatest Dad (dealing sadly with a faux suicide) Williams once more showed dramatic and comedic flourishes in an under seen gem that ends up being a mightily touching tale.

2. Peter Banning/Peter Pan: Hook (1991)

While the film may divide the masses one thing that remains unquestionable is Williams commitment to his role as Peter Banning a grown up and family man Peter Pan. Williams’s role is the embodiment that he so frequently tapped into of childish excitement and adult smarts, a classic of the adventure film genre and a childhood treasure that was built around Williams at his most fun.

1. Sean Maguire: Good Will Hunting (1997)

It’s well known that Williams finally broke through for his maiden Oscar win with his touching and thoughtful turn as Sean Maguire who ends up mentoring math’s prodigy and stubborn young man Will Hunting played by the evergreen Matt Damon. Williams nails every one of his lines and every character tic in a role that could so easily have become mawkish yet thanks to his acting smarts became wholly inspirational. Williams at his dramatic finest was as evidenced here as good as it gets.

Vale Robin Williams, gone but not forgotten.

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What are your favourite memories of Robin Williams? What movies of his rank with your favourites? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below or about your experience with this troubled yet genius invoking soul.



22 responses to “Robin Williams: Our Favourite Performances

  1. I’m the same way. Adored his films as a kid even if I kinda freaked out about him taking his prosthetic face off in Mrs. Doubtfire — I was young, ok? However, as you stated, the more mature themes resonate with me now and only makes me cherish more how Mr. Williams was able to make us laugh. Favorites? Jumanji, Aladdin, and What Dreams May Come.

  2. It’s amazing to think of the versatility of Robin Williams’ acting career. It’s so difficult to choose just one favorite of his films. But some of my favorites include Good Will Hunting, What Dreams May Come, and Dead Poets Society. Those films all shaped my life and made me think. He was so powerful in the dramatic roles.

  3. What I love is the fact that shortly after his son, he created so many amazing “family” movies in succession, but they were never patronizing, silly films. All of them were of such incredible quality, and being the same as age as his son, I feel like I’ve grown up with those movies. I think my favorites will always be the Birdcage and Mrs. Doubtfire, followed closely by Good Will Hunting. What a loss – I’m going to miss him tremendously.

  4. I too liked that he made a lot of family movies that were not hokey or sappy. I’m glad to see that One Hour Photo got mentioned on here because it was one of my favorite roles next to Toys and Good Morning Vietnam. He will be missed. Great post

  5. I know this is probably cheesy as hell of me to say but I sincerely almost teared up reading your post. It’s weird these actors are so comforting to us as we grow up and love their movies. I was an equal indoor/outdoor kid but the indoor time was spent watching VHS tapes over and over and sitting in front of HBO on the TV, loved Robin’s movies. Everything you guys mentioned even though it’s a weird one & small role, I always really liked The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and one of my favorites, not just from Robin’s filmography, is Awakenings.

    • I think we all had very similar experiences with Williams in our lives, it’s a great testament to his talent and skill that so many feel the same. He will be greatly missed.

  6. I think he created one of the most moving film characters of all time in Good Will Hunting – but even in his lighter/more comedic roles he was always able to add that touch of emotional depth.

  7. These are all good choices. What I really enjoyed, in addition to the films and especially Mork and Mindy, are the sit-down interviews he did for talk shows over the years. They’ve shown the ones with Johnny Carson which were hysterical. In more recent years he appeared quite frequently on Letterman and was just so funny. I just don’t know how a person could think that fast and be funny. He was simply amazing.
    I may be the only person who remembers the Woody Allen movie, “Deconstructing Harry,” in which he played a character who couldn’t focus. So for the entire film, he was shot completely out of focus. I’ve always wondered what he thought about that when he saw the script..

    • I must admit his interview on Parkinson in 2002 has always stuck with me, he was just so tuned in and insightful it was fantastic. Must admit to not knowing a lot about that Allen flick, will look into that more.

  8. I am a bit older than you guys, so Robin Williams for me is “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Morning, Vietnam”. I really think his voice for Aladdin’s Genius was a huge performance, and I’m happy he got the Oscar for “Will Hunting”: it was absolutely deserved, but many comedians never quite get a chance to win, even in a dramatic role. At least he got that. Cold comfort, I know.

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