When I heard the news that Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams died on Monday at the age of 63, I was speechless – and so very sad… Twenty-five years ago, Robin Williams gave his first Oscar-nominated performance in Good Morning, Vietnam. He’d garner another nod for his next big role in Dead Poets Society (released on this date in 1989). Whether tackling comedy or drama, Robin Williams always brings a unique hyper-kinetic energy to any role, something we came to love him for way back in 1978 when he starred in Mork & Mindy. There’s an impressive range to his acting as evidenced by the diversity of movies below. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to all of us – as a friend, idol, comedian and incredibly inspiring actor.
I think, the best way to honor such talent is a special movie weekend. These are my all-time favorites starring Robin Williams.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Possibly Williams’ most iconic role, John Keating has his students ripping up textbooks, standing on desks, displaying barbaric yawps and learning to both love poetry and seize the day. A Hollywood heartstrings kind of film, no doubt, but a good one thanks to the unconventional charisma of its leading man.
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
If any role was tailor made for Williams’ manic comedy timing, it’s his turn as a wartime DJ, frustrated at the U.S. Army’s censoring the truth he sees in Vietnam. “What does three up and three down mean to you, airman?” “End of an inning?”
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Williams already had the “inspirational teacher” thing down, but he faced a bigger challenge when the student—Matt Damon’s Will Hunting—wasn’t ready to learn. Williams keeps the eccentricities in check in a subtler supporting role, but the result is a more believable and original tale.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1991)
In the role that inspired Tobias Fünke’s Mrs. Featherbottom, Williams plays a man who plays a British nanny (with an inexplicably Scottish accent) in order to spend time with his kids. Williams cross-dressed his way into the second-highest-grossing movie that year.
I love Robin’s portrayal of Dr. Malcolm Sayer, whose concern for a group of catatonic patients leads him to revive one in a medical trial. Alongside a brilliant performance from Robert De Niro, Williams holds his own—something that would have been hard for us all to imagine watching Mork back in the day.
The story centers on 12-year-old Alan Parrish, who is trapped in Jumanji while playing the game with his friend Sarah in 1969. Twenty-six years later siblings Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) begin playing and unwittingly release the now-adult Alan (Robin Williams).
“Bangarang!” – Williams slipped into Peter Pan’s iconic green tights in Disney’s 1991 “Hook.” In the movie, Williams plays an overweight, adult Peter Pan who must be reminded of his youthful ways by the Lost Boys, who yell out “bangarang” in one of the film’s funniest scenes when Peter Pan takes on the Lost Boys’ replacement leader, Rufio
Patch Adams (1998)
Robin Williams is Patch Adams, a doctor who will do anything to make his patients laugh — even if it means risking his own career — in this inspiring comedy based on a true story.
The Fisher King (1991)
Many of Williams’ characters dangle perilously close to the edge of sanity, but Parry has been pushed right off that cliff in The Fisher King. Terry Gilliam’s Arthurian tale is set in the present, but it still takes a fantastical journey for Jeff Bridges’ disgraced talk-show host and Williams’ homeless widower to find The Holy Grail, sweet Lydia and redemption.
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