12 Aug 2014

The ‘countless moments of joy’ Robin Williams gave us

Robin Williams, star of films including Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting, has died at the age of 63 in an apparent suicide. Here are some of his best moments.

According to Williams’s press representative, the actor had been battling with severe depression recently. He was found dead at his home in California at around 8pm (GMT) last night and officials say it is suspected his death was “suicide due to asphyxia”.

It is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions. Susan Schneider, Williams’s wife

Susan Schneider, Williams’s wife, has said in a statement that she is “utterly heartbroken”.

“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” she said in a statement. “I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief.

“As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

His daughter Zelda Williams, who recently celebrated her 25th birthday, posted an excerpt from French poet and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince on Twitter, which read:

“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them… In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night… You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.”

She added: “I love you. I miss you. I’ll try to keep looking up.”

‘One of a kind’

Williams rose to fame in the Mork & Mindy – a spin-off series following an episode of Happy Days. He was also known for his stand-up career.

But it is his films that Williams will be most remembered for, from the Academy Award nominated Good Morning, Vietnam and Dead Poets Society to his Oscar-winning role in God Will Hunting and his acclaimed performance in psychological thriller One Hour Photo.

He also voiced a large number of characters, including the Genie in Aladdin and Lovelace in Happy Feet.

US President Barack Obama led tributes to the star, saying: “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind.

“He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalised on our own streets.

“The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.”

Steven Spielberg, who worked with Williams on Hook, said: “Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him. He was a pal and I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Steve Martin, who appeared alongside Williams in a 1988 theatre production of Waiting for Godot, said: “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”

Williams’s Good Will Hunting co-star Minnie Driver said: “My heart’s broken. Robin was a beautiful, kind soul. Can’t bear that he’s gone. So incredibly sorry for his family.”

Goooood Morning… and other Williams best bits

Channel 4 News has asked our social media followers for their favourite Robin Williams bits (and added a few of our own). Here they are:

Good Morning Vietnam

Good Morning Vietnam

There are many great lines to choose from in the 1987 film about Adrian Cronauer, an army disc jockey in the Vietnam War – including Williams’s parting words to his nemesis Sergeant Major Dickinson (about what he is in dire need of) and when he dubs his voice into a Richard Nixon press conference (Cronauer: “How would you describe your sex life with your wife Pat?” Nixon: “It is unexciting sometimes.”)

But with Williams, his humour was always touched with poignancy, as with his last words in the film – his final Vietnam, broadcast.

Cronauer as himself: “Gooooooood-byyyyyyye Vietnaaam! That’s right, I’m history. I’m outta here. I got the lucky ticket home, baby. Rollin, rollin, rollin’… keep them wagons rollin’, rawhide! Yeah, that’s right, the final Adrian Cronauer broadcast, and this one is brought to you by our friends at the Pentagon. Remember the people who brought you Korea? That’s right, the US Army. If it’s being done correctly, here or abroad, it’s probably not being done by the army.

Cronauer imitating an officer: “I heard that.”

As himself: “Oh, you’re here… good to see ya.”

As officer: “I’m here to make sure you don’t say anything controversial.”

As himself: “Speaking of things controversial, is it true that there is a marijuana problem here in Vietnam?”

As officer: “No, it’s not a problem, everybody has it.”

As stylist Leo: “I don’t know, Adrian.”

As himself: “Leo! Leo!”

As Leo: “Adrian, take care of yourself. I just want you to know one thing… if you’re going to be dressing in civilian clothes, don’t forget pumps.”

As himself: “Thank you Leo… thanks for these. Oh, these are special.”

As Leo: “They’re ruby slippers, Adrian. Put these on and say ‘there’s no place like home’, ‘there’s no place like home’ and you can be there.”

As himself: “I hope… I hope we all could.”

Mork & Mindy

Mork and Mindy

Williams’s breakthrough role (alongside Pam Dawber) was littered with Mork’s lack of understanding of Earth. Aside from his greeting (“Nanu-nanu”). Here is one example.

Mork: “If Holly liked him so much, how come she punched him and told him he was weird?”

Mindy: “Boys and girls often punch or push or hit each other as a sign of affection.”

Mork: “Punching and pushing and calling someone names means you like them?”

Mindy: “Yeah, it can.”

Mork: “Then the cowboys and Indians are lovers?”

Dead Poets’ Society

Dead Poets' Society

As well as the touching “O Captain, My Captain” tribute to Williams, as English teacher John Keating, at the end of the film, one favourite bit picked is the “Carpe Diem speech”.

Pointing to old pictures of former students, Keating says:

“They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster.

“They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you.

“Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilising daffodils.

“But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – Carpe – hear it? – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

Mrs Doubtfire

Mrs Doubtfire

As with many Williams’ films, there is a lot to choose from – but this risque bit, when Mrs Doubtfire (ie. Daniel) is trying to find out if his wife has slept with her new boyfriend (Stu – played by Pierce Brosnan), is particularly good (remember to imagine the Scottish accent).

Mrs. Doubtfire: “Sink the sub. Hide the weasel. Park the porpoise. A bit of the old Humpty Dumpty, Little Jack Horny, the Horizontal Mambo, hmm? The Bone Dancer, Rumpleforeskin, Baloney Bop, a bit of the old Cunning Linguistics?

Stu: “Mrs. Doubtfire, please.

Mrs. Doubtfire: “Oh I’m sorry, am I being a little graphic? I’m sorry. Well, I hope you’re up for a little competition. She’s got a power tool in the bedroom, dear. It’s her own personal jackhammer. She could break sidewalk with that thing. She uses it and the lights dim, it’s like a prison movie. Amazed she hasn’t chipped her teeth.”

Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting

Williams won the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in Good Will Hunting, alongside Matt Damon. Moments of note include the scene in the park (“You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist?”), but for tear-jerking, one highlight is surely when he breaks through the touch exterior of Matt Damon’s character. “It’s not your fault”, has us welling up already.



Above: Williams alongside Stephen Spielburg and Julia Roberts on the set of Hook

Peter (Williams) finally realises he is, in fact, Peter Pan (though now middle-aged and a lawyer) and proves this in a battle of insults with Lost Boys leader Rufio.

Peter: “Rufio, if I’m a maggot burger why don’t you eat me! You two-toned zebra-headed, slime-coated, pimple-farming paramecium brain, munching on your own mucus, suffering from Peter Pan envy!”

Lost Boy: “What’s a paramecium brain?”

Peter: “I’ll tell you what a paramecium is! That’s the paramecium! (points at Rufio) It’s a one-celled critter with no brain, that can’t fly! Don’t mess with me man, I’m a lawyer!”

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