Remembering Robin Williams
By now you’ve probably heard the sad news: we’ve lost comedic genius Robin Williams.
His work has spanned multiple generations, genres and mediums—and brought untold joy to the lives of so many—making it impossible to neatly sum up his impact and enduring legacy in just a few words. So we asked some Kempt regulars to share their favorite memories:
Kempt remembers Robin Williams.
Comic Relief. “What a great thing that was.” —P.L.U. Dead Poets Society. “There’s still something so funny/unnerving/poignant about that barbaric-yawp moment, when Professor Williams slyly heaves the entire might of his Williams-ness onto the slumped shoulders of his shiest student (Ethan Hawke, so young, so moptop-forward), forcing the kid to figure out what the hell to do with it if he’s ever going to become a man. And it works.” —L.P. Robin Williams. A Scottish accent. “The history of golf.” —K.P.
RV. “It’s not a great movie. It’s probably not even a good movie. But for one night, my family and I gathered around and watched it and laughed and at times related, as Robin Williams played a Griswoldian father trying to take his family on a simple vacation. It didn’t make a lot of money, it certainly didn’t win any Oscars, but with RV, Williams gave one family the relief of a shared night of laughter. Sure, it’s damn sad he won’t make another Good Will Hunting (or Dead Poets Society or Garp). But it’s pretty sad he won’t make another RV, too.” —P.L.U.
One Hour Photo. “The creepy flipside of Williams’s comic personality. He plays a stalker-y film developer (remember those?) in a role that’s part Rupert Pupkin, part Travis Bickle and all intensity. He’s terrific and so is the movie.” —P.L.U. Even Flubber. “I was one when Dead Poets Society came out, so my early knowledge of Robin Williams came from spending countless hours watching his more imaginative pieces with my siblings. It’s interesting to look back and notice how much wonderment he could convey when acting alongside something that wasn’t physically there. (Telling a miniature, Tinker Bell–dressed Julia Roberts that he believes in fairies in Hook, being chased by rhinos with a young Kirsten Dunst in Jumanji, communicating with a rubbery green ball in Flubber...) The man certainly looked at things in a different-than-most, somewhat bizarre way. Thankfully.” —B.G. With Charlie Rose in 2009. “In most of the interviews and talk shows he did, he was always ‘on.’ This is one of the few interviews where I felt like I saw the man, not the personality; where he and Charlie Rose talk like old friends. There are still classic Robin moments where he riffs for three minutes in ambiguous accents, but they’re made that much funnier following honest discussions about his health complications, politics and comedic process.” —N.W.
What Dreams May Come. “Perhaps not his best performance, or his most memorable film. But this parochial school kid will never forget a ninth-grade classroom with neither a female or dry eye to be found. But my allergies were pretty bad that day.” —R.M.
The Fisher King. “A fitting Robin Williams aphorism if I’ve ever heard one: ‘There’s three things in this world that you need: respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis and a navy blazer.’” —J.W.
Aladdin. “I remember literally falling out of my seat at the theater as a seven-year-old, I was laughing so hard.” —G.R.
Bangarang, Peter Pan. “O captain, my captain. It was a run-by fruiting. One lump or two, dear? Delicious and nutritious, tastes just like chicken. Made you look. Sorry, guys, I gotta see about a girl. What will your verse be? Nanu-Nanu.” —N.B.
A Great Memory. “Val Kilmer once charged my girlfriend $5 to take his picture sitting on a bench in New Mexico. I’ve seen it and the guy isn’t even looking up from his book. She’s not from this country and was totally ecstatic. This other time, I was skiing at this place where Robin Williams was randomly staying. Every time someone came up to him, he smiled, posed for pictures and joked with them. He then guided an entire contingent of tourists into the cafeteria making trumpet noises with his mouth like he was the leader of a marching band. Just one of the many ways that guy was so much better than Val Kilmer.” H.T.
Another Great Memory. “I loved Robin Williams in a lot of movies. Good Morning, Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society. But my favorite Robin Williams moment is one that I almost forgot. In 2002, my friend and I were shooting a ragtag documentary in Los Angeles and we somehow scored front-row tickets to The Tonight Show, and to our delight we discovered that Robin Williams was a guest. (We actually spent all day trying to find Mork costumes, but alas, we failed in our attempts.) Anyway, Williams came out in a crazy, black-and-white-striped suit. This was Robin Thicke before Robin Thicke. I don’t remember a word he said, but I do remember that when the show cut to commercial, the band started playing a song and Williams sprung out of his chair and began dancing. As the band continued and the crowd started to encourage him, Williams danced his way over to the band and just went nuts, totally grooving out to the music. He couldn’t contain himself. He had so much love to give, and he dispensed it beautifully. Pure entertainer.” —S.D.
Live from Boston. “A spontaneous memorial appeared overnight at the Boston Public Garden bench where Matt Damon and Robin Williams sat in Good Will Hunting, and it is wonderful in its own small way.” —E.T.
- Lonny Pugh
- Najib Benouar
- Shawn Donnelly
- Geoff Rynex
- Jason Wire
- Eric Twardzik
- Ricky McCrumb
- Nathan Wahl
- Katerina Petinos
- Hadley Tomicki