Today the world of film has lost a legend. Robin Williams brought youthful energy, wild improvisation combined with a unique dramatic tenderness to make all of his performances stand out. Grabbing the attention of the public on television he rose to become one of the best comedy actors of our generation. Below are my five favourite performances from an incredible career.
The Genie, Aladdin (1992): Williams and cartoons are a match made in heaven. It seems that Williams was in his element as a voice actor, his rapid improvisation and constant stream of comedy made this character appealing to both children and adults. The shape-shifting mystical being allows Williams to switch between impersonations, stand-up routines and improvised dialogue. The animators found it difficult to keep up, and his performance earned him a special Golden Globe in his honour.
Parry, The Fisher King (1991): Quite possibly one of the best character/actor matches in film history. This performance as a slightly insane, yet kind-hearted homeless man with a tragic backstory gave him his third Oscar nomination and third Golden Globe award. Showing how eccentric and mad he could be whilst still retaining all the necessary dramatic elements make him shine in this heart-breaking tale of redemption.
John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989): Playing an unconventional and idealistic boarding school professor Williams was able to bring the classics to life in fine style. It also earned him a nod from the Academy Awards for his work. It’s undoubtedly a highpoint in an already amazing career that cemented his status as a dramatic actor. This simple and controlled performance proves that he can be at best out of his usual comfort zone.
Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning Vietnam (1987): This performance balanced all the elements that made Williams a great actor. As an army DJ during the Vietnam war he successfully balanced eccentric performing on the air addressing the soldiers to keep morale up, but he also succeeds where many others would have failed in treating the issue of war seriously and with enough dignity to make it believable. His energy is put to great use and earned him his first Oscar nod.
Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting (1997): He finally took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor with this portrayal of a councillor for a trouble Matt Damon. It has none of the manic comedy that we’ve come to associate with Williams, instead we see a sincere, gentle and highly human performance. However it still includes some improvisation from Williams, including one scene where the cameraman starts visibly shaking, unable to contain himself.
With so many amazing films under his belt, we’re sure we’ve missed a few great performances from an actor who has left us too soon. Leave a comment below if your favourite Robin Williams performance wasn’t on there. As well as this though, take some time over the next few days to reflect on the life and legacy of a great acting icon.