What the Hell Happened to Robin Williams?

Robin Williams 2014

Robin Williams

Note: This article was written prior to Robin Williams’ death on August 11, 2014.  At present, Williams’ death is believed to be suicide.  The purpose of this article is to review Williams’ career as an entertainer.  My sympathy goes out to Williams’ friends and family.  I am personally saddened by his passing.  I will update this article as information becomes available.  In the meanwhile, please view this as a celebration of William’s work.

At the peak of his career, Robin Williams was one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. He made the extremely rare transition from comedian to dramatic actor. What’s more, he was able to alternate between popular comedies and dramatic roles while winning awards for both. But eventually, Williams’ popularity waned. While Williams remains busy, his last starring role in a mainstream movie was in 2009.

What the hell happened?

williams and reeve

Robin Williams and Christopher Reeve

Williams was a quiet kid who came out of his shell when he became involved in his high school drama department.  In 1973, at the age of 22, Williams was one of only twenty students accepted into the Julliard School.  He and Christopher Reeve were the only two students accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year.  According to Williams, Reeve showed him kindness that he would one day repay.  When asked for his favorite memory of Reeve, Williams replied:

“Him being such a great friend to me at Juillard, literally feeding me because I don’t think I literally had money for food or my student loan hadn’t come in yet, and he would share his food with me.  And then later after the accident, just seeing him beaming and just, seeing what he meant to so many people.”

williams - laugh in

Robin Williams – Laugh-In – 1977

Williams left Julliard in 1976.  In 1977, he started appearing on TV shows like Laugh-In (pictured) and Eight is Enough.  He was a regular on the Richard Pryor Show which last only four episodes.  Here’s a clip:

And here is a clip of Williams’ stand-up from 1977:

williams - happy days

Robin Williams – Happy Days – 1978-1979

Williams had a guest spot on the popular 50’s sit-com, Happy Days.  Williams played an alien named Mork who came to Earth looking for a human specimen.  He chose Richie Cunningham to take back to his home planet of Ork.  It fell to the Fonz to save his friend from a bizarre alien abduction.  In the end, the entire episode turned out to be a dream.

The story goes that Williams was cast as Mork after meeting with producer Gary Marshall.  Marshall asked Williams to take a seat and Williams immediately sat on his head.  Marshall later commented that Williams was the only alien to audition for the role.

williams - mork and mindy

Robin Williams – Mork & Mindy – 1978-1982

Williams’ guest spot on Happy Days was popular enough for Marshall to launch a spin-off show, Mork and Mindy in 1978.

(This was an exceptionally common practice at the time.  Happy Days was a spin-off from Love American Style.    In addition to Mork and Mindy, Happy Days launched six other shows: Laverne & Shirley, Blansky’s Beauties, Out of the Blue, Joanie Loves Chachi, and two cartoons.)

The new show had Mork landing on Earth in the present day of the 70s.  Instead of abducting a human specimen, Mork’s mission was to study humans and report back to his boss on Ork.  Mork was taken in by the beautiful and kind-hearted Mindy played by Pam Dawber.  Hi-jinks ensued.

There was an episode in which the character of Mork met Robin Williams the comedian.  Williams portrayed himself as a desperately needy person who could never say “no” to anyone.  He was extremely sad and vulnerable.

The Mork character was extremely popular with kids.  It launched a slew of Mork-themed merchandise.  Williams’ grinning face was everywhere.  Speaking as a kid who was part of the show’s target demographic, I loved the broad humor.  I even went as Mork for Halloween one year.


Mork Halloween Costume

The pictures isn’t of me.  But I had this exact costume right down to the creepy Williams mask.  Although I didn’t wear the mask.  Those things were extremely uncomfortable.  And what do you need the mask for?  Batman, sure.  But Mork?  Especially when they put his face on your chest as well.  What was the point of that?  It’s not like Mork had a picture of his face (along with his name and catch phrase) on his chest.


Robin Williams – Mork & Mindy – 1978-1982

Mork and Mindy ran through 1982.  In the final season, a number of gimmicks were used to try to save the show.  Mork and Mindy got married and had a son.  Because of his alien physiology, their son aged backwards which allowed them to cast comedy legend Jonathan Winters as a child in the body of an old man.

The gimmicks did not result in increased ratings.  The show ended on a cliff-hanger.  In the first two parts of a three-part story, Mindy’s apartment was destroyed and the family was on the run from a hostile alien.  The conclusion to the story was never filmed.

The final episode of the show to air was filmed before the cliff-hanger and did not resolve the dangling plot thread – much to the chagrin this particular Mork and Mindy fan.  (I spent years trying to figure out whether or not I had missed the conclusion.  Turns out, I hadn’t.)

32 years later, here’s a clip of Williams and Dawber reflecting on Mork and Mindy.

Next: Popeye and The World According to Garp

Posted on April 25, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 254 Comments.

  1. its gonna be weird seeing wordls greatest dad bar non his last good film in that movie he claimed his kid hung himself and he did it in real life. Its creepy watching it now. i did research and by box office success the top grossing actors on the list are eddie murphy ,robin williams ,jim carrey ,mel gibson ,nicolas cage stallone . With the exceptiton of cage and stallone all the actors i mentioned in the top 20 of highest grossing actors of all time i guess even if you are still a box office draw you career is still considerd dead


  2. alot of comeideans are depressed ironic


  3. he had enough going on in his life coke addiction alcohol problems the parkisons just made it worse but he could have dealt with like michael does by staying strong and helping other that have it robin had alot of problems the pressure of hollywood must made him depressed speaking michael j fox any chance u have articlee about him cause he went from hit show to hit movie then flops then tv show and now his career ended


  4. i laugh off the rumor that cancellation of crazy ones destroyed his career because he had four movies lined up he was still considered a bankable name that draws people in heck mrs doubyfire 2 was in the works so he could have easily been back to a list.Michael j fox is a different story if i heard he been depressed after the cancellation of his show i would believe it cause his movie career died in the 90s which is why he did spin city and since he has Parkinson there are not a lot of roles written or him unless its a guest spot


  5. My Tribute to Robin Williams:

    We were all saddened at the new we received just about 24 hours ago (as I type this) regarding Robin Williams. Even more shocking than his death was how he died. At first, I wasn’t going to do a tribute article because, well, he was never my favorite comedian. Don’t get me wrong, he was a brilliant comedian and a genius at improve. But he was lower on my list when I grew up. But then I decided there were three things I had to talk about, and that is what we will do today.

    Before I begin I am only noting the works I have actually seen. Therefore some his great stuff (like Good Will Hunting or Dead Poet’s Society) will be absent. I am sure they were amazing but this is about the stuff I did see.

    1. Television

    I noticed in the tributes (and I would be lying if I said I saw all) they neglect the TV work Williams did. Robin Williams did a ton of television, and here is a list of my favorites:

    Mork & Mindy. Duh. No one is forgetting this one but I had to mention it. This was the show which made Williams a young star with his crazy improv.

    Happy Days. Of course, Mork was a spin-off of this show. If you’ve never seen the episode he first appeared, find it somewhere. It is one of the funniest half hours anywhere.

    The Tonight Show. Need I mention how many times he appeared and was always hilarious. And yes ge was also on Letterman, Conan, and pretty much everything else.

    Friends. Yeah this was a stunt to push for the new film “Father’s Day”, but Williams and Billy Crystal appeared in the teaser of one episode. It was probably the funniest thing in the episode.

    Carol, Carl, Whoopi and Robin. Oh my friends, you have to see this. This was a variety special hosted by Carol Burnett. The highlight being a funeral sketch with Robin Williams as an inappropriate mourner. The legend is they did the sketch twice, once as written and the second time letting Williams improve. It’s pure classic and won Williams an Emmy award. It seemed inappropriate to link to it considering what happened actually to Williams, but it is on YouTube if you want to check it out. It is Robin Williams at his best.

    Comic Relief. And how could I not mention these telethons? Williams along with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal did several of these to raise money for homeless. Of course it featured dozens of comedians but Williams was always one of the stand outs.

    Saturday Night Live. The younger folks may not remember this but Williams hosted this show several times. In fact I had the VHS copy of The Best of Robin Williams. It was great and I watched it many times. I could do a whole article just on this, and he also appeared in the 15th Anniversary Special.

    The Earth Day Special. You may remember my article on this last year and Williams was front and center as “Everyman”. In fact it was something he did here which made me dislike Williams for a time, but that’s another story.

    Dame Edna’s Hollywood. Anyone remember this one? I have it on tape if you don’t

    Sesame Street. Yeah Williams did a few these. One involved showing Elmo how many things you can do with a stick simply by using your imagination. Classic.

    The Golden Globes. In 1998 Christine Lahti won for Best Actress in a TV Drama. Why am I bringing this up? When her name was called at the awards, she was in the bathroom. No joke, and Williams took it upon himself to jump on the stage and stall with some improv. A small but brilliant moment.

    Who’s Line is it Anyway. I hated this show, but checked out the clips. An improv show and Robin Williams? Nah could never work. Hilarious

    Law & Order. I never saw this one, but wish I had. He is on this show and is not funny. It really shows off his dramatic side. Chilling.

    I am leaving a lot off, including his brilliant live show at the Metropolitan Opera, but we’ll be here all day. I also did not mention his cameo in the 20th anniversary but it’s one of my funniest Robin Williams moments and he talks about how much he did with Disney. Check it out here

    1. Films

    The second thing I wanted to discuss was the movies he was in that I have seen. Some were good, some were not as good. But Williams was always worth it. Again, only listing the films I have watched working from most recent down.

    Night at the Museum. Yeah I never watched it per se. I did see Film Brain’s review of the sequel. I felt I had to mention Williams awesome jot as Theodore Roosevelt.

    Bicentennial Man. Sadly I have say that this is one of the worst movies I ever saw. It is so boring, but Williams wasn’t bad in it. It’s about a robot who wants to be human…next.

    Patch Adams. Yeah this is an example of Williams trying really hard. The problem with this movie isn’t the acting, it’s the awful script which just turns this great guy into a goof ball.

    Flubber. Williams was perfectly cast in this role to bad he was once again the victim of a bad script.

    Jack. OK I promise we will get to the good movies! This one was awful, and I could be here all day with this one. What’s that? It was the director’s fault? I have no problem with that.

    Jumanji. Now we’re talking! This movie was just goody fun. Sure it made no sense really, but I enjoyed watching it.

    Nine Months. The movie everyone forget he was in. Including me. This was a Hugh Grant comedy and Williams basically has a cameo as the gynecologist. Know what? He was the funniest thing in the film.

    Mrs. Doubtfire. I really liked this movie. Does it have its problems? Sure. It can be a little heavy handed at times not to mention contrived and ridiculous. But the fun parts are a lot of fun and this is a movie I could watch over and over again.

    TOYS.When this was coming out Williams really pushed it, I think he was proud of it. Too bad it’s a confusing mess of a movie. I still have no idea what the heck was going on in it.

    Alaadin. Oh hell yes! Williams was pitch perfect as the Genie. We didn’t even care that most of what he said made no sense given the time period. It was funny as hell and the Genie is one of the best loved Disney characters to this day.

    Hook. Steven Spielberg directed and some would say that it really shows. I liked this movie and the way Williams plays Peter. You totally buy him when he is a jerk and then later when he rediscovers the kid inside. Just a very strong performance here.

    The Fisher King. Williams plays a homeless man who lost his sense after his wife was brutally killed in front of him. This movie has its funny moments but for the most part is serious. It is a very well told story and I’m glad that I finally saw it.

    Awakenings.Williams totally lost himself in this role, and his work here is just amazing. How someone who could be so funny can also do heavy drama will always fascinate me. Robert DeNiro is the star but Williams’ performance should not be ignored.

    Good Morning, Vietnam. I’ve talked before about how I got hooked by the ads which made this sound like a comedy romp. Not quite. But Williams is awesome here and handles the funny moments just as good as he does the serious one’s.

    Popeye. Finally, we end on one of his earliest films. And it’s not the best. It is quite boring. But give Williams credit he really captures the spirit of Popeye and I can find no fault in that.

    Whew. And there are plenty I missed because I’ve never seen them! I just know after I publish this I will remember five other appearances I’ll wish I had mentioned. What were your favorite moments?

    1. Depression

    The final reason for doing this article is to talk about how Robin Williams died. He had been suffering from bipolar depression for some time, and according to reports the depression had been very bad lately. I do suffer from depression, but it is mild. That doesn’t mean when I hit a low it doesn’t hurt, it makes me moody and miserable and hating everything. But it is mild so I don’t take meds and it usually fades. I can only imagine what it is like for people who suffer from Major Depression. The fact that Williams he had to take his life is beyond my ability to comprehend. However, if anything good can come from this I just hope that people will become more aware of what depression is. It is not a bad day, it is not someone being “negative”. Telling them to get over it isn’t the answer. It’s an illness, and even to this day many refuse to see it as that. I wish that would change so that the people who suffer from this condition can stop feeling ashamed, and get the treatment they need. Depression is a disease and we need to stop pretending that it is not.

    That’s my tribute to one of the finest actors/comedian’s I ever saw. He was around and for my whole lifetime which I am fortunate for. But he was one of a kind and it saddens me that I will never see him again except for his excellent legacy he left us. In fact, Larry King said it best last night. I leave you with the quote he paraphrased from Hamlet.

    He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again. (1.2)


  6. shame he died cause i think he had what it takes to turn it around at least he will night at museum as his last hit


  7. if anyone doubts his acting ability they should watch awakingis he does well without going over the top oscar snub


  8. With The Fisher King, Robin Williams shrugged off the burden of genius:

    by Keith Phipps

    For a good stretch of his career, the word “genius” trailed Robin Williams, and not always to his benefit. In the introduction to a long 1988 interview with Williams in Rolling Stone, Bill Zehme wrote that the then-new Barry Levinson film Good Morning, Vietnam was “being hailed as the first big-screen project properly suited to the comedian’s genius.” In one sense, those doing the hailing were correct. Inspired by the war experiences of DJ Adrian Cronauer, the film’s on-air segments allowed Williams to drop the inspired, improvised routines that first made him famous as a stand-up into the middle of a dramatic story. It wasn’t the first time Williams had proven himself as a dramatic actor. The Juilliard-trained Williams’ dramatic abilities had been evident since The World According To Garp. Nor was it the first time he’d been able to draw on his improv skills, which had been the backbone of his star-making turn on Mork & Mindy. Yet there’s another side to that acclaim, a suggestion that Williams’ skills made him a freak, burdened with a talent that rendered him unsuitable for most roles. What made him a genius in nightclubs made him unconvincing as an ordinary person—or made it seem that when he did play an ordinary person, he was wasting his gifts.

    Williams’ best work as an actor suggested another option, synthesizing his faster-than-thought comedic gifts with soulful character work. It would be most evident in the years after Good Morning, Vietnam made him a bankable star, one whose successful films gave him the freedom to pick and choose his projects. He often chose well. Like Good Morning, Vietnam, his next big hit, Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society, found room for comedic asides alongside the drama. But Williams was just as good in the Penny Marshall-directed Awakenings, which forced him to bottle up his free-associative tendencies, and especially in Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King, in which he plays a man for whom flight into fantasy serves as both an escape and a trap.

    Williams’ filmography is littered with the forgettable (The Big Wedding) and the regrettable (Old Dogs). He had a habit of using his skills as a crutch, as in a painful improv sequence in the 2006 comedy RV that found him busting out a decades-out-of-date b-boy impression, or relying on a wistful man-child twinkle (e.g. Hook). But it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing Williams’ best roles, and The Fisher King easily ranks among them. I’m not sure that’s why it was the first Williams movie I thought of after hearing about his death, however. It’s often unwise and irrelevant to connect actors to the roles they play, and yet something about Williams’ suicide has invited it. He often played men struggling with darkness, sometimes without success, frequently men who used verbal agility and unbridled energy as weapons in the fight. Few movies put that struggle to the fore as prominently as The Fisher King.

    Williams plays Parry, a homeless man who happens upon Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges), a disgraced morning shock-jock bottoming out in the streets of New York, as a pair of thugs prepare to burn him alive. Though already on the verge of suicide, having tied weights his ankles and preparing to jump in the water, Jack welcomes the rescue and soon finds himself drawn into Parry’s rich fantasy world. Fashioning himself a modern knight, and receiving instruction from invisible little people, Parry is on a quest to retrieve the Holy Grail, which, having spotted it in an architectural magazine while following the little people’s instructions, he knows to be located in the library of a Manhattan mansion.

    Written by Richard LaGravenese, The Fisher King gets its title from a medieval story about a wounded king and the search for the Grail, which will heal him and the land that’s gone to waste around him. The Fisher King story has taken on many forms over the years and gets recounted here in a version unique to the film, and one that parallels the action around it. Instead of Percival or other Arthurian knights, it’s a fool who unwittingly finds the Grail and heals the king. Like much of The Fisher King, the moment needs the performances and the direction to keep it from tipping over into mawkishness. Talking to The L.A. Times, LaGravenese recalled Gilliam asking him to put back “odd, weird stuff” taken out in the development process and noted “that is so important because the script to me could have been so sentimental that it makes your teeth hurt.”

    What did end up on screen is very much a movie- and metaphor-friendly depiction of mental illness that, had it veered off course, would have risked romanticizing both instability and homelessness. As it’s handled, however, it works: Growing calmer and more coherent as the story progresses, Parry almost slips back into sanity near the end. But sanity also means remembering losing his wife when a gunman, inspired by something Jack told him on the air, shot up a bar three years earlier.

    It’s at this point that the Red Knight, the film’s nightmarish manifestation of Parry’s worst fears about the past he’s trying to outrun, and the depression threatening to pull him under, makes an appearance, just as it does later, after a successful date with Lydia (Amanda Plummer), a woman he’d previously admired only from afar. Williams’ scenes with Plummer, particularly a long walk home after their dinner, are both heartbreaking and romantic. The thought of happiness grounds him, steadying his thoughts. And though Lydia’s portrayed as only slightly less eccentric than her suitor, Plummer and Williams make it seem plausible they’ll be able to balance each other out. Yet for Parry, experiencing happiness means fearing its loss, and soon the Knight chases him through the streets to the spot where Jack previously met the murderous thugs. Accompanied by his vision of the Knight, they return, and it’s almost as if Parry willed them there. As they attack him, his last words are, “Thank you.”

    It’s tough to watch this moment now, to see Williams play a man wishing for death, even though it’s consistent with the character Williams creates in the film. After a horrific experience, Parry has reassembled the world out of the shattered pieces of what’s been left to him—scraps left on the street, rags others discarded, medieval stories he taught as a professor, and memories of a time when a woman loved him. It’s kept him safe, but rejoining the world means confronting that loss, and finding happiness means understanding he could lose it all again.

    The figure of the Fisher King makes an appearance in T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” but The Fisher King brings to mind lines from another Eliot poem: “human kind / cannot bear very much reality.” Gilliam’s previous films had made that a central theme, sometimes at a bit of a remove. Williams’ performance gives it flesh-and-blood form. Parry has the madness Williams brought to his comedy and the gravity of his best dramatic work, but nothing separates them. Williams the improv artist surfaces in lines like “Now that you know where we are, don’t be a stranger. Come back—we’ll rummage!” before vanishing as the character sinks down into muttered nonsense and conversations with unseen forces. The performance jumbles insanity, melancholy, and fragility together until they become nearly indiscernible.

    Parry finds the happy ending Williams couldn’t; it’s best to leave any other parallels there. Whatever resemblance Williams’ off-screen life bore to the characters he played, the work remains knowable in a way the man never will be, no matter how candid he was about his struggles in interviews. In his best roles, Williams conveyed a sense of despair and a need for connection, sometimes joining it to his comedic talents, other times muting that ability, but in his strongest performances finding a way to join the two, even if it was just to let a glimmer of his dervish energy peek out from behind his eyes. Williams’ best work, the stuff that will be remembered much longer than, say, The Big Wedding, didn’t clear room to accommodate his comedic skills. It allowed him to reinvent himself, to pound his gift into new forms to suit the screen. There’s genius in that, too.


  9. The death of Robin Williams, and a call to be better:

    The tragedy surrounding Robin Williams’ passing was made worse by crass reporting in some sectors of the media, Simon writes…

    A week or so after the sad news broke, many remain in shock over the death of Robin Williams. The much-loved actor and comedian died at the age of 63, having taken his own life. I can’t begin to imagine the depths of despair that he must have fallen into in order to do such a thing, and for his close friends and family, the last few days must have been utterly unbearable. My heart truly goes out to them. I never knew the man, and I was shocked to the core. How they felt I can’t begin to comprehend.

    I can only dearly hope that the majority of them at least managed to avoid certain quarters of the internet on Tuesday 12th August 2014 though, and the tabloid headlines the following day. For amongst the genuine outpourings of affection, and expressions of loss, was what’s becoming a deeply uncomfortable race to the bottom, with a growing number taking part.

    Sadly, many of you will already be well aware where this is heading.

    I’m talking about a trend that’s repeating itself whenever someone famous passes away, and it’s one that’s almost unique to big news websites. Namely: how can they turn the death of someone famous into as many mouse clicks and screen taps as possible? Within hours of Williams’ death, the internet was awash with stories examining every possible angle, each vying for your attention. There’s something deeply unsettling about it, yet it now appears to be The Way Things Are Done.

    It’s not lost on many of us that the major names in reporting are leading the charge. And it’s a shame, because if you look deeper online, and you’ll find a host of websites with deeply affectionate tributes. That was certainly the case with Robin Williams’ death last week, where there were some genuinely moving articles posted.

    Still, even a decade ago, the loss of somebody well-known would, at worst, generally result in people putting together tribute lists and features. I’ve never been entirely comfortable with those, but I can see that the majority are done with genuine intentions, rather than being about garnering clicks for a website.

    What this piece is about, however, is a call for change, however futile it may be. Hadley Freeman, writing in The Guardian, put together a piece entitled ‘How To Cover Celebrity Deaths: the new rules’ earlier in the year, and I found myself reading it and nodding as I did so.

    She wrote it partly in response to Mail Online – the world’s most popular newspaper website, attracting over 100 million users a month – which had posted a video of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s partner in the days after his sudden death, as she tried to organise his funeral. But Freeman also makes valid points about the way columnists and fashion writers also make clickbait out of a high-profile death.

    The reporting of Robin Williams’ passing, however, seemed to excavate new depths. Within hours of the news breaking, once-respected names were falling over themselves to come up with appropriate clickbait. These are all legitimate screenshots taken just hours after news of Williams’ death was reported:

    It beggars belief that one of the first thoughts following news of Williams’ death would be over the status of Mrs Doubtfire 2, but Variety – once the premier name in film reporting, and a brand that’s supposedly meant to stand for something – took mere hours to get on the story. Variety is supposed to be the kind of film outlet we all look up to. Not last Tuesday, it wasn’t.

    It seems a whole bunch of reporters couldn’t get to Twitter quickly enough either, to amalgamate stories such as ‘Celebs shocked, devastated’. As for Mail Online urging us not to miss the story of Williams’ “utterly heartbroken wife”? I don’t know where to start.

    I’ll spare you the reposting of Wednesday’s tabloid headlines. Chances are you know what they are already.

    To put this into context: a man, who had been suffering (and that’s exactly the word) from depression, one of the least understood illnesses on the planet, took his own life. He was 63, was survived by a wife and three children, all of whom were left trying to put the pieces of their lives back together. They were greeted by stories looking at any possible angle from which to get traffic to a website.

    The widely-tweeted screenshot that seemed to encapsulate everything that was wrong, though, was this one. This was from ABC, a Disney-owned company and one of the major television networks in the US.

    To be clear: inside that house was a grieving family. Had one of them stepped outside, a live news feed would presumably have zoomed in, so the world could see them at one of the lowest moments of their life. ABC, I should note, has since apologised.

    But why do it in the first place? Where is the public interest in that? Where is the humanity in that? This may all sound a bit holier-than-thou and preachy, but seriously: doesn’t this have to stop now?

    It may also sound idealistic, even a forlorn hope, but surely, asking for reporters to remember we’re human beings at such low moments isn’t an unreasonable request?

    The death of Robin Williams brought out so much warmth and emotion in many people across the world, clearly touched by a man who had, for decades of his life, entertained millions of people in a manner few, if any, of us could. The reporting of his death from many major outlets, though, was absolutely shameful (and not shy of double standards. Nikki Finke penned a long warm obituary to Williams on her site, overlooking the fact that back in September last year, she wrote, “Someone get him back on drugs or alcohol or both”).

    They’d argue, of course, that if we didn’t click on them, then they wouldn’t be so popular. And unfortunately, that’s absolutely right. The onus, I’d suggest, is on both sides: on the people putting words on the internet, and the people choosing which ones to click on.

    It’s a plea that likely won’t work. I’m not naive. But I do know that Robin Williams’ family, and more before and many after, do not deserve a news helicopter hovering above their house in the midst of such a tragic day.
    ‘Competitive Grieving’

    While I’ve got my flame suit on, there’s another growing trend when the world loses someone famous, and the best phrase I’ve heard to describe it is ‘competitive grieving’.

    Again: I truly believe that the majority of people who posted on social media in response to Williams’ death were shocked, moved and upset. Their responses were genuine. But I’d also contend that there’s a smaller subset who, whether they see it or not, seem to be engaged in a game of grieving one-upmanship. The worst examples tend to be articles of the ilk of ‘the Robin Williams I knew’, as invoices are swiftly enclosed alongside articles that claim to have some insight others haven’t. Yet it’s the trend on social media to try and outdo other grievers, by recounting personal encounters, trying to show how some may be more upset than somebody else, or by in some way quantifying one person’s grief as more intense than another’s. I find it incredibly uncomfortable.

    I’m sparing some of the individual examples I’ve seen on Twitter over the last week, and in the week after Philip Seymour Hoffman died, so as not to point ire in the direction of a particular individual. But I found no shortage of examples.

    People react to bad news in very different ways, and I don’t for a minute think to dictate how each of us deals with shocks and tragedies. Conversely, I do think a modicum of respect, and a larger dose of ‘being a human being’ wouldn’t hurt.

    It’s been a terrible week, particularly for Williams’ friends and family. But if we’re looking for something even vaguely helpful to come out of the outpouring of warmth of grief, then hopefully, the shaming of some segments of the media, and their dealing with a sensitive issue, will have a positive ramification somewhere along the line. I’m an idealist, granted, but I can’t help thinking there really has to be a better way forward.


  10. we should remember robin for his amazing career but the mistakes he made with his personal life he made us laugh mr doubtfire cry good will hunting when robin died a part of our childhood died my first movie in theater was flubber


    • There’s a lot of material out there to remember him by; there has to be something for everyone of all ages and temperments.
      Sure, there are individuals who have struggles, some more than others (personally, I struggle a lot with much, but I write, so I’m alright:-):and you hope they can either break through, or make the most of the time they had. In Robin Williams’ case, he was of the latter.
      I found it interesting to hear that Robin Williams’ remains were cremated so quickly (if he was of the Jewish faith, then 24 hours would be routine), but then again that may have been his wish.


  11. i been depressed never once out about suicide though anyone who thinks of that should think of people they will hurt by doing it


    • That sounds great in theory, but someone who is so deeply depressed is only thinking about how painful it is to be alive. Yeah, some people leave notes and explain why, but others don’t. I mean, someone must be in a bad place if they lose the desire to survive, since self-peservation is a natural instinct of ours.


  12. i hope to god no one associates sheen of seymore hoffamn with there drug use. If charlie sheen dies (god forbid) they should remember for his amazing work in 2 and a half men and platoon which shows he could have been a big star and he is actually a good actor. Phillip semyore hoffman has passed i don’t want anyone to associate him with his drug use he yes he had a problem but he was a talented actor who was well respected treated his fans with respect and a good father despite the drug use.what i like about robin and phillip they didnt look stars not handsome in the traditional movie star way like brad pitt but still good actor they proved good acting trump hes over good looks


    • When it comes to Charlie Sheen, his highly publicized lifestyle will always be part of his narrative, and later (or lazier) in his career, I think he cashed in on the attention. I feel Charlie Sheen could’ve been so much more as a performer, but he chose a certain path, and he seems self-satisfied.
      I think Philip Seymour Hoffman will always be regarded as one of the best pure actors of his generation; in the film I’ve seen in which he is involved in, he ALWAYS crawled into the skin of the characters he played seemlessly. He could play anything from a stuck up society guy to a manager of a professional baseball team and it was all so natural to me. Besides, his addiction battles weren’t played out in the tabloid public.


  13. true suicide is irrational act u do out of impulse instead of thinking about how others would feel he should had more counseling .


    • Yeah, but sometimes there are no answers, and for some discussing how bad they feel could make them feel worse.


    • When you’re suicidal, you think you’re doing other people a favor by ending it. You feel like a burden on everyone. I find this comment extremely irritating. You speak with certainty yet you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about in this case. Quit talking so much and try listening for a while.


  14. i loved good will hunting i wish before robin died he had a chance to reteam with gus van sant or matt damon i always wondered if he ever met jim carrey i always wanted them to make movie if someone finds a pic of them together post it


  15. no they were not as talked about as sheen when a famous person dies sometimes there more remembered for their death if it makes a huge impact then there work.example phil hartman great actor but he was never a list or b list maybe c list the only thing people rember about him is his death. I know sheen didnt have the best resume but lets remember him for charismatic performance in 21/2 men he has great comic timing the show went down without him isnt that testament of his talent. he really did have good potential platoon got great reviews held his own against dafoe and bergenger he just choose bad material he should have went for drama roles like platoon instead of action crap


    • I agree that Charlie Sheen has good comedic timimg, but I’m looking towards the two “Hot Shots” films and even “The Chase”. The problem for me is that on “Two and a Half Men”, he is essentially playing himself. Was he good at playing himself? Yes. Was he funny? Well, yeah. But still, he wasn’t exactly stretching himself.


  16. iam sure his publicist thought his bad boy image would help his career but he should have stayed clean went for dramatic sad that since wallstreet no dramatic roles i dont know how someone who had a clean cut dad like martin ended up like that but i never think about actors personal life i think of his acting sheen is incredible 21/2 is my fav show or was anyways when he was on it. Iam sure he was dead people wont trash him out of respect and remember him for his good work hot shots made me laugh . from what i heard from william dafoe he was a nice guy very helpful. are we going to rember robin for suicide or his coke problem and let me tell his scandals were in the news just as much as sheen its just that sheen resume is no where on par with robin so its easy to lose track of it. No we will remember him for Aladdin


    • I really don’t feel that Robin Williams’ off-camera life was tabloid fodder as much as Charlie Sheen. I mean, Sheen had the Kelly Preston incident, His name in high priced madam Heidi Fleiss’ black book , His father publically having an impromtu press conference about how he turned his son in to the police to get him help, His “winning” phase, I mean, one can go on.


  17. in the 80s robin was in out of rehab his coke use during mork and mindy was all over the new in the 90s he made waves when he cheated on his wife with nanny plus there was tabloid about how he gave women herpes or sometinhg 06 he to rehab for his drinking problem ok maybe your right hes not in the news AS much as sheen but he was there quit alot its easy to forget this becase unlike sheen his movies made studios money. sheen is way different then his harper character then you think sheen dosent have harpers charm you can say robin plays himself alot too sometimes iam not saying sheen is better then robin because is a better actor then sheen iam saying dont diss sheens acting he is much better then the material given to him looks past sheens antics watch wall street.


    • I wasn’t aware of any Robin Williams related off camera news other than his addictions, sobriety, and divorces. I guess at the time of this news I was either too young or I wasn’t paying attention (A quick note: I liked that film he performed in which during filming he fell of the wagon, “The Big White”. It was like some of his darker material, except his character itself was more odd than dark).
      Oh, I think “Wall Street” is an excellent film (I like 1980’s ANYTHING, for the most part, but especially the films). Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox was strong. What I’m saying is that when Charlie Sheen just fall back into playing character that use his own personal life as a punchline is uninspiring, if occasionally amusing. He just could’ve been more than that, but again, I guess he didn’t want to be.


  18. i think sheen and michael j fox should have an article both actors had blossoming movie career then fucked it up with bad film choice sheens coke use didnt help either then went to tvs when there film careers failed both left there hit tv shows and there career dropped


  19. if seymore hoffman never died he would never be on the list cause his film career was he on fire 2 years before he died had an Oscar nom then before he died he appeared in hunger games he was doing good its sad he threw it away


  20. i had a friend who commited suicide i reaserached a bit on depression i never claimed to be the expert but i know a bit about it


  21. iam sure sheen turn to coke when his career died


    • Well, Charlie Sheen came into his own in 1980’s Hollywood, an era which was awash with cocaine. There were more concaine related controversies in entertainment and sports (I’m think the mid ’80 Pittsburg Pirates baseball team as the largest sports example) than can likely be properly addressed.


  22. true dennis qauid said coke was everywhere even in the movie budgets


  23. VMAs play strange 23-second tribute to Robin Williams, Twitter responds with outrage:

    The actor and comedian’s death jarred the entertainment industry, but this tribute was tone-deaf.

    Sarah Gray

    Last night the MTV VMAs paid tribute to departed actor and comedian Robin Williams. “Robin Williams’ death rocked the entertainment world,” MTV News noted, and the award show, dedicated to celebrity, took a moment to mark the passing of a bright star.

    It was well intentioned. The execution — photos fluttering briefly over a Coldplay track — however, was rather botched. And folks on Twitter noticed.

    The 23-second tribute to Robin Williams was decried on Twitter as too short, and oddly placed.


  24. he had been taking anti depression they r known to give chemical imbalance in brain


    • I think anti-depressent meds can be quite a rool of the dice, since the doctors are guessing on what will bebefit the patient as well. When my fathertold the VA he was depressed, whatever they gave him made him feel worse. I mean, for some people meds work, but others have an adverse reaction.


  25. true he has 4 movies coming out this year its gonna be weird seeing him on screen knowing hes gone he even has the night at musuem movie coming out out his last live action movie will also be his last box office hit


  26. leabeau would u say tommy lee jones ,billy bob thorton and robert duvall are all a list and i was thinking u can do an article about greatest comebacks ranging travolta in pulp fiction to brando in godfather


  27. I just finished watching Good Morning, Vietnam again for the first time in many, many years. The film was the perfect vehicle for Williams in a way. Finally, he could be both outrageously funny and serious in the same film. Watching the film again after all these years, I can still see why the Academy Awards gave Williams his first Oscar nomination. Actually, the film was just added to Netflix streaming, so if anybody hasn’t seen it yet, or if it’s been a long time since you’ve seen it, I’d recommend tossing it into your viewing queue. It’s one of Williams’ better films.

    Watching the film again also made me remember how much I loved JT Walsh’s work. He was teriffic as the Major that doesn’t much care for Cronauer’s “irrelevant tendencies”, a despicable character. I’m reminded of how much a fan of his I was from films like Sling Blade, Breakdown, Pleasantville, The Negotiator, Red Rock West, even when he had a small part he was always a compelling presence in a film. JT Walsh was, and still is, one of my all-time favorite character actors, I miss him the same way I miss Robin Williams in a way. Both great talents gone too soon.


  28. i wish robin and jim would have made movie togather


  29. its ironic he played 2 suicidal characters fathers day patch adams and a suicidal type movie worlds greatest dad i always wondered why he was so good at playing depressed unhappy characters i just wish he could have seek d counseling about his Parkinson i know Parkinson disease is a big deal but he could have pulled a michael j fox and used his star power to help people get more people more involved in fighting the disease michael j fox had it worse he was diagnosed in his late 20s the prime of his life he handled it well robin was in his 60s still relativity young but could have helped people with it like michael j fox


    • I feel that there are stark differences between someone like Robin Williams diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Michael J. Fox. Robin Williams relied on facial expressions and manic energy, something that would be seriously compromised by the onset of Parkinson’s. Also, Michael J. Fox received his diagonosis when he was much younger (not saying it was easy for Michael J. Fox, as he left “Spin City” back in the day due to the diseases effects) , which allowed him a transitional period. Furthermore, Robin Williams had so much on his plate to overcome to begin with; maybe he was just tired


  30. being diasoned with Parkinson at a young age is worse at a young age not being able to function is worse plus robin had perfomances that didnt relie on that like good will hunting worlds greatest dad michael j fox had a career despite his disease robin could have done it to


    • The truth is, Michael J. Fox has taken very few roles since his diagnosis other than his guest spots on “That Hot Woman” (I mean, “The Good Wife”) and his recent half-hour television series (I thought it was okay). Besides, they are different people; Robin Williams really liked to cycle, and maybe biking would have been out of the question later on for him. I’m still sticking with the thought that Robin Williams just had enough and wanted to check out.


  31. iam sure robin could have done guest role or bit parts in movies iam sure it wasnt just the Parkinson it could have been other things Parkinson was straw broke camels back he had alimony bipolar drug addiction he been depressed for years plus to be honest parkison wasnt the only thing that killed his career he made poor film choices his post back to future flopped which forced him to go back to tv so poor choices killed michael j fox career hes a underrated actor very funny however like charlie sheen he picked the wrong movies his movie career bombed tv was the work they can get


  32. Letting the posthumous halo fade:

    by Nathan Rabin

    When the news of Robin Williams’ suicide broke in August, my first thought wasn’t about the many blockbusters he made, or his signature roles. I thought about Bobcat Goldthwait’s wonderful 2009 sleeper World’s Greatest Dad, which commented smartly and subversively on a phenomenon Williams’ death quickly unleashed. In World’s Greatest Dad, a tender, restrained Williams plays Lance Clayton, a failed writer and single father whose ambitions to be both a great author and a terrific family man have gone unfulfilled. Lance’s 15-year-old son Kyle (Daryl Sabara) is human garbage, an abusive and bullying creep who kills himself in an act of autoerotic asphyxiation. If you’ve ever doubted Williams’ gifts as a dramatic actor, watch the scene of Lance discovering his son’s corpse, if you can. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.

    Lance sees a silver lining to his son’s meaningless death, however, and he pours his grief into composing a fake suicide note for his son that gets published in the school paper, leading Lance to put out more of his own work under his son’s name. In the process, Kyle’s image is rehabilitated to a ridiculous, comical extreme. A jerk no one thought much of is lionized as a soulful exemplar of noble adolescent yearning. Kyle becomes a blank canvas that others can project their own aspirations and fears upon. He stops being a person and becomes a symbol, a saint.

    Something similar happens to celebrities when they die, especially under shocking or dramatic circumstances. A benevolent form of cultural amnesia develops over all their flaws. We forget about all the awful films and choices they made. Death washes away their creative sins and amplifies their triumphs.

    To a certain extent, this idealization and romanticization of the recently dead, a psychological halo effect, represents a purposeful act of radical simplification. Robin Williams was an extraordinarily complicated man with many different sides. There was the motor mouthed cokehead and the man who prized his sobriety, the manic improviser and the Academy Award-winning dramatic actor. There was the Williams who partied with John Belushi just before Belushi overdosed, and the Williams beloved by generations of children as one of them, a great big kid who was always around, in live-action or animated form.

    The halo effect reduced all these contrasting versions of Williams to an all-purpose, reassuring cliché: The angelic man-child who gave the gift of laughter freely, and with great joy. It’s mawkish and reductive, but sometimes those are necessary evils, because confronting the full force of artists’ darkness and complexity in the immediate aftermath of death would be too painful. It was bad enough that Williams died in such an agonizing, public way; who but the most ghoulish would want to follow that by rooting around in the downsides of his personal and professional past?

    Part of what made Williams’ death so shocking was how powerfully it conflicted with the Williams of the public imagination, who wrestled with dependency issues and mental illness long ago, but had seemingly become a sober, solid American institution. When Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an accidental overdose in February 2014, it came as a shock in part because the public knew relatively little about him. While Williams often seemed to be playing some version of himself in his films, Hoffman disappeared completely inside the roles he played. It was as if there was no Philip Seymour Hoffman in real life, just the art he created.

    The shock of Williams’ death was so extreme that people understandably wanted to bathe in the warm glow of nostalgia. And with Williams, there were a lot of great moments and good times to remember—but there was also a whole lot of dreck. The dead almost inherently engender respect, so it’s hard to concede now that while Williams was a smart, kind, talented dramatic actor with a lightning-quick mind, the vast majority of the films he acted in ran the gamut from mediocre to actively excruciating.

    Pretending otherwise is dishonest, and an insult to Williams’ memory. Pretending that everything, or even the vast majority, of what he did was great—an attitude that seemed to be epidemic in the weeks following his death—is dishonoring The World According To Garp and The Fisher King by lumping them in with the dregs of Fathers’ Day, Old Dogs, and the many films Williams made that are endured rather than enjoyed.

    Immediately after a death, the halo effect serves a useful, even essential purpose. I wasn’t a fan of Paul Walker’s acting, but I was relieved that when he died in a car crash in November 2013, he was warmly remembered as a generous, big-hearted man with a bright future ahead of him, not as a mediocre pretty-boy who lucked into some lucrative roles. In a pop-culture world so dominated by snark, there’s something refreshing about wanting to memorialize the recently dead in the most positive, flattering way—initially.

    The problem is that is if the effect lingers too long, it can dramatically and unfairly distort the actual worth of an artist’s career. There was a danger of that happening when Williams died, and the tidal wave of mourning that followed seemed to bestow classic status on everything he did that was halfway successful. It was as if the shock and awfulness of his death instantly elevated Mrs. Doubtfire to a universally adored masterpiece. Briefly, it seemed like agreeably schlocky Williams films like Jumanji had become sacrosanct not because they were great, or even particularly good, but because they were such a big part of so many people’s childhoods, and starred a beloved man who had just died.

    Thankfully, the effect is temporary. Sometimes you can trace the exact moment when it ends, and reality kicks back in. For me, it dissipated completely when I watched Patch Adams for the third or fourth or fifth time, as part of a forthcoming Career View on Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was dreading this particular film, in part because it represented the only collaboration between two men whose deaths profoundly shocked and traumatized culture this year, but also because I knew firsthand just how dreadful it is, how pandering, maudlin, and dishonest. Patch Adams is a popular comedic target—Futurama and Cecil B. Demented are among the institutions that have satirized it—but it’s so devoid of self-consciousness that it’s ultimately beyond parody.

    Patch Adams has a reputation in some circles not just for being bad, but for being the worst of the worst, the black nadir of rank, self-aggrandizing Robin Williams sentimentality. And does it ever live up to that reputation. I re-watched the film in a strange state of intense yet strangely liberating joylessness. Re-watching Patch Adams finally allowed me to see Williams as he truly was: a genius, and a good man, but also an actor who perpetrated some of the worst movies of the past quarter-century. Even Hoffman couldn’t elevate the material. Nothing could make Patch Adams anything other than an enduring abomination: not time, not even the deaths of two cultural figures whose significance it’s hard to overstate.

    It was somehow freeing being able to see Williams and Hoffman in utter garbage, in a film guaranteed to knock the halo off the loftiest acting angel. Williams was no longer a paper saint. He was just an actor who had made some really deplorable films in exchange for great deals of money, and that’s okay. There’s no crime in that—it’s what actors do. Even actors as beloved as Robin Williams. The halo effect helps us process and work through pop-culture grief, but I still feel like I made a breakthrough once I was able to laugh at Patch Adams, rather than with it. It was oddly comforting to feel a strong, honest, intense reaction to the beloved late comedian—even if it was one of extraordinary distaste.


  33. Robin Williams: 5 Awesome Performances & 5 That Sucked:

    A career of stark contradictions in review.


  34. bipolar coke addiction his Parkinson was straw broke camels back i was upset that his cancelled tv crazy ones was said to be reason to kill himself he had plenty of films lined up he had alot of clout its not like he was in trouble of not finding work he was to good for that show anyways made me wonder how they would write his death in story line had the show got renewed for 2nd season


  35. Steven Spielberg’s Hook: What Went Wrong?


    Spielberg’s Hook boasted a star cast, a prime release slot, and was set to be the big hit of 1991. So: what happened?

    If you’ve never quite warmed to Hook, then you’re not alone. Its director, Steven Spielberg, apparently isn’t much of a fan of it either. In fact, let’s leave the ‘apparently’ out of it. Chatting to the Kermode & Mayo radio program while promoting the film Lincoln, he was pretty candid. “I want to see Hook again,” he told them. “I still don’t like that movie. I’m hoping some day I’ll see it again and perhaps like some of it.”

    Hook was something of a disappointment all round. TriStar Pictures gambled heavily on the film – not that it appeared much of a gamble on the surface – and the then-depressed film industry was looking to the star-laden blockbuster to inject fresh life into 1991’s blockbuster numbers. Another E.T.-scale success was expected.

    But it never happened.

    Not that Hook flopped (although the far cheaper The Addams Family did equivalent business in the US around the same time). By the time the film had finished its theatrical run, the movie had taken over $300m at the global box office. That was a lot of money in the early ’90s, although so was Hook’s $70m budget. Had Terminator 2: Judgment Day not become the first $100m movie that summer, the focus may have been more on the cost of the film, which at that stage was one of the five most expensive of all time.

    “We Don’t Wanna Grow Up”

    So how does Hook stand up? Well, as I did when looking back at the last three Indiana Jones movies last year, I recruited my children to help answer that. I find it interesting to try and see the films I grew up with through their eyes, and whilst I was late teens by the time Hook landed (and we didn’t get it in UK cinemas until Easter 1992), I still remember the excitement of going to see it, tempered slightly by the memory of me looking at my watch as often as Captain Hook tried to avoid anything ticking.

    Thus, my six-year old daughter and my 11-year old son feasted their eyes on the film. And – spoiler! – they quite liked it. My daughter warmed to it more, but both were fidgeting long before the exhausting 144 minute running time was up.

    And in fact, bloat is one of Hook’s problems.

    The film, as you probably know, is the tale of what happens when Peter Pan grows up. As it turns out, he turns into an early ’90s corporate suit, glued to an oversized mobile phone and not engaging with his children.

    Worse, he goes to a meeting at the office, rather than his son’s baseball game.

    Worse, he shouts at his kids.

    Worse, he takes a phone call during his daughter’s play.

    Worse, he… well, you get the idea.

    But just in case you don’t, a good 20 minutes is spent establishing why Peter Banning (played by Robin Williams) is such a terrible ’90s dad. Hulk Hogan, in the film Suburban Commando, got across just as much about the era with the line “this is the ’90s, I’m gonna sue ya” than the extended prologue we get with Hook. And it’s not until Banning and his incredibly patient family – there’s a $5bn deal to be done, y’know – arrive in London that the film finally starts to splutter into life.

    There are, I feel, moments in Hook that remind you of better films, and when they’re sat upside in Granny Wendy’s house going to bed, I did wonder about sticking Labyrinth on. But then we get Dame Maggie Smith, with her performance leading me to wonder if she was always this age. She is, of course, brilliant, and whilst conflict is being set up between Banning and his son in these early stages (ready to be fairly easily resolved later), Smith is as magnetic as she always is. She leaves you rooting for the fact that her stories are true.

    The Media Circus

    Enter Tinkerbell, then.

    A Premiere article going behind the scenes of Hook back in December 1991 – as with most of the media at the time – was slightly obsessed with Julia Roberts in the role. Primarily because of the troubles she was going through off-screen rather than her work on it. In fact, set rumors – and this was in a pre-internet age – were damning. Roberts, we were led to believe, was difficult to work with. She was “Tinkerhell,” according to a report in the Premiere piece, and even the article – which was a supportive one – describes her as a “curious presence” on set, “sometimes somber, sometimes at the near edge of hysteria.”

    If that was indeed true, who could blame her? Her proposed marriage earlier that year had collapsed, and she’d then been hospitalized with a particularly strong case of flu. That, and every tabloid on the planet was seemingly after a story about her.

    At the time of shooting Hook, Roberts was still in her early 20s. Who of us could deal with what she went through at that age, for better or worse? Spielberg, to be fair, defended his star. “Julia probably went through the most trying times of her life, and it was simply bad timing for all of us that she happened to start on Hook at that low point,” adding that he thought her performance “is terrific.”

    I bring all this up because it does seem to have had some impact on the screen. Tinkerbell is a supporting role in Hook, but she’s the character that basically glues the grown up world and the Neverland world together. And for whatever reason, she seems a bit flat.

    We’re in the age before CG dominance in blockbusters, so Spielberg is playing clever tricks in keeping her miniature against all the other characters, but it feels and looks like there’s distance. Inevitably, a modern Blu-ray transfer shows the joins a little, but even so, Tinkerbell is one of the parts of the Hook jigsaw that doesn’t seem to work too well.

    The biggest one though – and this remains as much a surprise to write now as it was then – is Dustin Hoffman. His Captain Hook makes you pine for Jason Isaacs, as we regularly do. It’s as if there’s a tonal misjudgment here.

    Hook himself, bluntly, comes across as a pantomime fool (he’s even de-wigged at the end!), save for one or two brutal moments that feel more out of character than defining parts of how he’s supposed to be. When he kills Dante Basco’s Rufio, there’s a sense of ‘where did that come from?’ It doesn’t help that the script – which I’ll come to – asks us to believe that Hook has waited decades to enact his revenge on Peter Pan, then gives him a few days to go off and train (this is the same screenplay that, when their kids are kidnapped, has the Banning parents sit around quietly chatting, with little sign of panic).

    Furthermore, his key plan to defeat his nemesis – given to him by Bob Hoskins’ far more entertaining Smee – is to befriend Peter’s eldest son. Even in the early ’90s, that felt wrong.

    It’s fitting that affable old Hook’s demise comes when an apparently-dead crocodile lands on his head, and then he mysteriously disappears into said croc’s stomach. Even if there’s still, even now, a sense of ‘was that it?’ about it.

    But then, ironic given that his name is in the title, and that the running time is so elongated, there’s barely any room for Captain Hook in the movie. Instead, the script focuses more on Peter Pan’s family problems, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys.

    Tick Tock Tick Tock

    The problem there is there’s nothing in Hook that you can’t see coming a mile away. We weren’t even in the era where every secret was given away in the trailer months ahead here, and the word ‘spoiler’ was rarely used around movies.

    But did anyone go in to see Hook not knowing that Banning would become Peter Pan? Even a character like Rufio, who dislikes Peter when they meet: was anyone in any doubt that they’d end up chums?

    Yet the process is so, so, so, so, so drawn out. Peter doesn’t find his happy thought until over halfway through the movie – over 70 minutes in! Until then, he’s been the grumpy, confused twit with the mobile phone. In a story with few surprises as it stood, it felt exhausting waiting for Robin Williams to get his tights on.

    Look what Spielberg did next to get a flavor as to how to work the balance. Jurassic Park is a two hour film. Take the immediate beginning off, and the leisurely animals that we meet early on, and you get 45 minutes or so of build, and 75 minutes of release. James Cameron’s triumphant Aliens extended edition keeps you waiting just over an hour to meet the xenomorphs properly, and layers in plenty to keep you interested up to that moment. But even Cameron knew he had to release them eventually.

    Hook just takes too long to do anything. It’s as if all concerned got blinded by how attractive the idea of the movie was. After all, Steven Spielberg directing a grown-up Peter Pan movie? When the press wasn’t obsessing over Julia Roberts’ personal life, that was the other key message. The Peter Pan of modern cinema, directing the story of when Peter Pan grew up. They must have doubled the budget for the Christmas party there and then.

    Yet placed in the context of Spielberg’s career, Hook came at a crossroads of sorts. He’d just come off the back of the raging success of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Hook would repeat a marketing trick from that, putting Spielberg himself in an early teaser trailer), but before that, there was his lowest profile movie of the 1980s, the thoroughly decent Always.

    It was no secret that his filmmaking was balanced between the blockbusters he’d become renowned for, and more adult subject matter. Yet as liked as films such as The Color Purple and Empire Of The Sun were and are, it felt like he hadn’t quite found his voice fully in either; that he fell back a little on what people expected from a Spielberg film.

    Now I really like Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade as well, but rarely for a Spielberg film, it does feel like it got away from him just a little. It’s an awful lot of fun, but it’s the sparkling character dynamic between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery that’s the key there. Without that, it’s a long film, one that has just enough material and moments to sustain it.

    Hook doesn’t, and after its release, Spielberg would set to work on the two films that would be the springboard for the next part of his career. That’d be one of his very best blockbusters, Jurassic Park, and one of his very best ‘older’ films, Schindler’s List. In both, he hit the mark.

    With Hook, he missed. And somewhat inevitably, there’s a sense that this is a mid-40s Spielberg going through a transition. But that’s easy to see now. At the time, it was just a puzzle as to how a good idea on paper had missed the mark so much.

    The Upsides

    Having said all that, there’s still more to like here than I remembered. Accepting I’ve spent a good 1000 words on the downsides of Hook, I do think that Spielberg may be being a bit harsh in entirely dismissing his movie. When Peter Pan takes to the skies, is there anyone better at getting across the joyful wonder of a glorious movie set via an action sequence than Spielberg, for instance? His energetic camera, and his desire to have a boat full of extras – again, no CG, they’re all real people – is hugely cinematic. When the fun comes, it is worth waiting for, and for half an hour, Hook is very good indeed, I’d argue.

    Furthermore, John Williams’ score is quite, quite brilliant. Take the ‘we want to be like Peter Pan’ song out of it, and I rank it amongst his ten best. Not something that’s said lightly. The double CD release is an absolute treat.

    Its message of family, and what matters, is delivered with the quiet sensitivity of smacking your knackers against some blunt garden shears, though. Nothing is done in half measures. And maybe the genesis of the screenplay didn’t help there.

    Hook started as one thing, after all, and ended up another. It started and ended with James V Hart, though, who penned a screenplay for Paramount Pictures in the early ’80s, with Dustin Hoffman cast pretty swiftly as Captain Hook. Michael Jackson was mooted for the lead at that point, be he declined.

    Spielberg, who had been circling the film, dropped out in the mid-80s after pre-production had begun. And the film sat in limbo for a bit, not least when Spielberg walked away altogether to make Empire Of The Sun a few years’ later.

    Enter Nick Castle, and the idea of an older Peter Pan. Paramount hired him to direct, and The Last Starfighter helmer got to work. Hart was still involved, the project shifted from Paramount to TriStar, and Castle recruited Robin Williams to join the still-attached Hoffman in the cast. Yet, when the pair didn’t see eye-to-eye with the new director, and when Spielberg’s name re-entered the conversation, Castle got a $500,000 pay off, and an eventual story credit. The film was then green lit when Spielberg was installed, and a large scale success was expected.

    But maybe it was all too perfect a fit. Hindsight is wonderful, but which of us, had we been running a movie studio, would have called bullshit on a project that at that stage had what looked like a pretty perfect cast, and the ideal director to make it? Still, Spielberg – a filmmaker notorious for coming in under time and under budget with his post-Jaws movies – ran 40 days over here (to 116 days) and around $15m over budget. This one hadn’t gone to plan.

    Spielberg himself gave an interview in 2011 to Entertainment Weekly, where he said that he wasn’t keen on the Neverland sequences, “because I’m uncomfortable with that highly stylized world today.” I liked those bits, though, notwithstanding the narrative issues. And my kids did too. In fact, take 25 minutes out of Hook – again, an easy thing to write in an article, and an easy thing for a non-filmmaker to say – and it may have played better, more evenly and more satisfyingly. It’d be fascinating to see how it would come out if Spielberg re-edited it now, and made an alternate cut available.

    Yet contrary to reports, Hook was and is no disaster. It just feels like a missed opportunity, a film that had a few too many interesting ingredients, and nobody really imposing themselves on what it should ultimately have become.

    The bottom line for me is that it can still sit and entertain, to differing degrees, a sofa full of two children and a grumpy man. That counts for something, and a muddled mess like Hook, for my money at least, is worth a box set of Transformers films.

    But still: when the credits finally rolled, I think all three of us on my sofa just wished for slightly more than we got with Hook.


  36. Death to Smoochy is one of my favorite movies of all time.


    • I didn’t feel strongly about it either way (though I felt some moments were off the mark from what was intended). I happened to catch it on HBO the previous decade, and used it to pass an hour and a half or so. I guess now I would say the film is a twisted misfire.


    • I think it was Roger Ebert who said a movie as bad as Death to Smoochy could only be made by extremely talented people because it takes a lot of confidence to go that far astray. These things are a matter of taste. So I can imagine some people really grooving on it even if the majority didn’t like it. For the small handful of people who enjoy the movie, it’s going to be a favorite I would imagine.


      • I remember reading that review and feeling that comment was right on point. I do see where there is an audience that favors it, but I also understand why it was thrashed.


  37. Robin Williams had parkinson’s and Lewy body disease. This causes you to think slower,move slower. poor memory, this disease is progressive. Robin was probably feeling these symptoms for a long time. I’ve watched many clips and saw him do comedy and mix his words up, and be slow at remembering what he was to say as far back as 2002 Can you imagine robin being slow at anything. This had to be devastating for him. He lived to perform and he knew he was losing that ability. Robin was still very talented but these diseases were not allowing him to show them in the way he was use to. He never complained or let anybody know what he was going through, but he still worked hard to do the best he could. Also look at his personal life. I think he lost the love of his life, his second wife Marsha. His children were grown and gone, ? money problems, how much can one man go through. I don’t think his so called friends were there for him, like he was for them. I read a article where is new wife only cared about her two boys and herself. The article said his children was not even allowed to come to robins house.
    Not even for holidays. My heart just breaks for him. This life can be so unfair and cruel for some. I hope and pray there is a heaven,jlvaughn@ymail.com and robin is experiencing the love, joy, fulfilment,
    happiness, and full appreciation of others he so deserves. Robin received an amazing send off, lets just hope he sees it. Why don’t so many of us show this while a person is alive. Including myself. GOD BLESS YOU ROBIN WILLIAMS.


    • It’s horrible that he contracted those diseases and that his ability was apparently diminished. I can imagine the thoughts he had daily, and they had to be accompanied with a mix of terror and despair. Performing is what kept him around for so long, for sure. My only comfort is that he left plenty of entertainment behind, but I wish things turned out better for him at the end (I feel he was someone famous who was easy to root for).


  38. Robin Williams deserved a better swan song than Boulevard:

    Robin Williams was a great comic actor, and at times he could be a very effective dramatic actor as well. Without a strong director to rein him in, however—a Peter Weir or a Gus Van Sant or a Christopher Nolan—he had a tendency to think he was projecting “deep” when he was actually turning in something uncomfortably close to “moist.” Boulevard, the final theatrical release in which Williams plays the lead role (he has one voice-only performance as a dog that’s still pending), was directed by Dito Montiel (A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, The Son Of No One), who clearly lacked either the will or the authority to keep his star from laying on the morose regret with a trowel. There’s no joy in reporting that this beloved actor’s last handful of movies were stinkers (see also A Merry Friggin’ Christmas and The Angriest Man In Brooklyn), but honoring the great work he did requires acknowledging the lousy work as well.

    It doesn’t help that Boulevard is a movie that feels at least a decade past its sell-by date, if not two. Williams plays Nolan Mack, a rather meek fellow who’s spent his entire adult life married to the same woman, Joy (Kathy Baker), and working at the same dead-end job, pushing papers around at a small Nashville bank. Nolan and Joy have an affectionate rapport, but they sleep in separate bedrooms, and it comes as no big surprise when Nolan, driving home one night after visiting his hospitalized father, suddenly stops his car alongside some young men who are pretty clearly for sale. As it turns out, though, Nolan doesn’t want sex, to the befuddlement of Leo (Roberto Aguire), the guy he picks up. He’s content simply to look at Leo naked, hold him occasionally, and help him out financially. Joy, meanwhile, seems to be well aware that her husband is gay—she repeatedly catches him in lies, never confronting him—but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s ready for him to end the marriage and pursue real happiness.

    Arriving several years after Beginners, for which Christopher Plummer won an Oscar as an octogenarian who joyously embraces his homosexuality late in life, the soggily repressed Boulevard plays like the two steps back to that film’s one step forward. Screenwriter Douglas Soesbe’s decision to make Nolan more or less asexual can be justified psychologically—after a lifetime spent in the closet, one might well be terrified of acting on genuine desire—but the lack of even some tentative exploration feels like an act of cowardice by the filmmakers rather than by the character. Williams tries hard to convey Nolan’s sense of liberation (with Leo) and guilt (with Joy), but that’s the problem, as it often was: He tries way too hard, telegraphing the character’s emotions so furiously that the performance becomes overbearing. (That the super-relaxed Bob Odenkirk plays Nolan’s best friend compounds the problem.) It’s left to Baker, who rarely gets a part this juicy nowadays, to provide some much-needed subtlety; the scene in which Joy finally speaks her mind about why she married Nolan provides Boulevard with its sole incisive moment. Had the film been more about that relationship, instead of focusing almost exclusively on its protagonist’s soft-spoken, wet-eyed ineffectuality, perhaps it could have served as a better swan song.


  39. The Good Son:

    Posted 05 July 2015 – 11:21 PM
    Yeah talk about a complete 180 in roles. This might have worked if Culkin waited a few years to make it more surprising of a turn towards darker material, like Robin Williams did in the early 2000s or what Culkin himself did in Party Monster. Yet to do it right after being in two huge holiday hits is just mind boggling and really shows why he sort of had to separate himself from his parents, as I’m sure they were a focal point in him taking this role. And very rarely do killer kid movies do well enough to not come off as bonkers or hokey. The Omen and Bad Seed are two examples of it working well for a variety of reasons while this and countless others are just insane because eventually the audience realizes that the kid is either going to have to be killed or is going to get away with it, both which are pretty downer types of endings.

    Posted 06 July 2015 – 07:05 AM
    To be fair he was just a stalker in that, but that was also paired with Insomnia where he was a killer, Death to Smoochy which I thought was his best role of all these dark roles, and even the Final Cut which was kind of a dark sci-fi movie. He even did an episode of Law and Order: SVU which played on the news story that Compliance was also based on. And I don’t think it took much to convince him to do it, as at that point in his career was sort of on a downturn after winning his Oscar with What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams, Jakob the Liar, and Bicentennial Man, so he was probably looking for something new to reinvent himself, which was a great choice on his part.

    Posted 06 July 2015 – 07:26 AM
    I’m glad he chose to do a bunch of more diverse projects his darker movies are great. Insomnia is one of my favorite things he’s been in.

    Culkin on the other hand, chose the wrong role to diversify with and ended up just creeping everyone out.


  40. 5 Robin Williams roles that help illustrate his major talents http://nyti.ms/1UtNkwI


  41. ‘Jumanji’ Star — Film Reboot Not Right Without Robin Williams http://dlvr.it/Bn8P2F


  42. Category: This Sucks So Bad … Created on Monday, 01 September 2014 17:53 Written by George Rother


    The signs were all there, why didn’t I heed them? Everything pointed to Being Human, a vignette-comprised drama starring Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire), being a stinker. There were no advance screenings. Warner didn’t market it at all. It was dumped into an early May release date. Writer-director Bill Forsyth (Gregory’s Girl) disowned it after a dispute with the studio over running time and content. Nevertheless, I went to see Being Human on a Saturday night with a group of friends. Yep, I dragged others into it as well. WOW! And I don’t mean that in any good way. Not only is it Williams’ worst movie, it’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. The main reason? It’s SO BORING! My God, I’ve seen turtles move at a faster pace! It’s a pitiful attempt at an existential historical epic that follows a human soul through five different periods in history.

    Williams appears in all five vignettes, in different incarnations, as a man named Hector. Simply put, Hector is a loser. It takes him thousands of years to complete his journey, if you can even call it that. I’ll explain in more detail in the next paragraph.

    Interestingly enough, all of Williams’ characters speak English regardless of the country in which the action takes place. In the first segment, Williams is a caveman (or an ancient Celt) whose wife and children are taken from him by Viking raiders. At one point, his wife warns him not to lose the children. He does and that’s what his journey appears to be about, reuniting with his children. In the second part, he’s a Roman slave with a foolish master (Turturro, Quiz Show) that agrees to kill both himself and Hector in order to repay a debt. Hector tricks his master into granting him his freedom and he escapes with a slave girl (Mahlaba). In the third vignette, he’s a Scottish trader on his way home to his family when he gets sidetracked by a beautiful Roman woman. They don’t understand each other since she appears to be the only one in this movie that doesn’t speak English. After a brief stay at her home with her children, he decides to move on. Part number four has Williams playing a Portuguese man circa the Renaissance that finds himself shipwrecked in Africa with a bunch of others including his spurned lover (McInnerny) and her new mate (Hyde, Jumanji). The final part of the movie takes place in present-day New York where Hector attempts to rebuild his relationship with his estranged children (he hasn’t seen them in four years).

    There are many recurring motifs in Being Human such as shoes, chickens, religious icons, rope and crossing water. I know what it’s supposed to mean, I think. It emphasizes the fact that all five Hectors possess the same soul due to the magic of reincarnation. Throughout his life, he keeps making the same mistakes. It’s as good an explanation as any. As for the movie’s slower-than-slow pace, it’s supposed to emphasize how slow life often is. Baloney! It sounds like the studio’s publicity department at work to me. That’s just the kind of statement they come up with to try and make their movie look and sound better. No amount of positive spin can cover up that Being Human is a giant cinematic turd. It’s dull, turgid and utterly pointless. Seriously, what’s the damn point? I typically like Forsyth’s films but this one effectively put an end to his career as he’s only made one other movie in the twenty years since this came out. That would be Gregory’s Two Girls (1999), a sequel to the delightful 1981 teen comedy-romance that I’ve purposely avoided watching. Why ruin the memory of one of my favorite “Hidden Treasure” movies? As much as I like Williams, it turns out five times the Robin Williams doesn’t make a movie better. He makes a valiant effort, but even he can’t rise above the material. The rest of the cast doesn’t fare much better. At no point did Being Human feel real or authentic to me. It looks more like a bunch of overgrown college kids at a history-themed costume party. The only nice thing I can say about Being Human is that the picture is always in focus. Okay, now I’m just reaching. This movie is just one big miscalculation. It’s two hours of my life that I’ll never get back. If it’s trying to make a statement about the human condition, I totally missed it. Any and all tributes to the late comedian should just skip including Being Human. I’m sure he doesn’t want to be remembered for this one.


  43. #BREAKING: Robin Williams Family Settles Fued Over Estate http://tmz.me/aMEUAAh


  44. One thing that I didn’t know before: Ted Danson got his CSI part over John Lithgow and Robin Williams:


    • I wasn’t an avid watcher of the show (viewed a decent amount of the finale), but what I’ve seen of Ted Danson in it he does a good job, but John Lithgow is always reliable, and play make any character believable.


  45. i could see lithgow doing not sure about robin. I wish before robin passed he worked ewith gus van sant again they could have recpatureed magic of good will hutning


  46. Robin Williams’ widow: “If Robin was lucky, he would’ve had maybe three years left”


    Susan Williams detailed her husband’s illnesses for the first time in an interview with GMA.


  47. Disney exec: Robin Williams’ will prevented potential sequel using Aladdin outtakes


    If not for the will of the late Robin Williams, there might well have been an Aladdin sequel voiced by the legendary comedian. Williams recorded enough unused material during the making of the original film in 1991 for another one, claims an unnamed former Disney executive in a new interview with The Times of London (via New York Post).

    The source claims the outtakes were planned to be used in a fourth film in the Aladdin franchise, but the project had to be shelved when Disney found points in Robins’ will that prevents the major production studio from using his name, or any taped performances or recordings for a full 25 years after his death.

    While the performance outtakes weren’t used for the original feature film, the unnamed Disney executive said that they were top-notch. “When he was on form, the hyperactive motormouth we love from Good Morning Vietnam, Hook, Dead Poets Society, and Mrs. Doubtfire was making 30 jokes a minute.”

    The clause isn’t all too surprising for Williams, who has expressed disappointment with Disney in the past. In a 1993 interview with the Today Show, he explained that he didn’t want the mega-studio using his voice to promote Aladdin-inspired merchandise.

    “We had a deal,” said Williams to interviewer Gene Shalit (via LA Times). “The one thing I said was I will do the voice. I’m doing it basically because I want to be part of this animation tradition. I want something for my children. One deal is, I just don’t want to sell anything — as in Burger King, as in toys, as in stuff.”

    The clause puts any use of Williams’ recording on ice until 2039. In the meantime, “[the jokes] will remain in the vaults,” said the Disney exec. That said, some of the outtakes (apparently those that were previously authorized) were released in last month’s Blu-ray release of Aladdin. Check out some of those extended outtakes via ABC’s Good Morning America below.


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