8 memorable roles of the unforgettable Robin

Kap Maceda Aguila - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Appearing on CNN following the shocking demise of Robin Williams last Monday, former radio and television personality Pat O’Brien quoted the late Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel who opined, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

Some solace, perhaps, for the utter sense of loss for legions of Robin fans all over the world. Few have touched so many people in so resonant a fashion as the 63-year-old actor, stand-up comic and all-around good guy.

Although his comedy is perhaps what endeared him to us the most, it would do Robin an injustice to be remembered for this genre alone. He leaves behind an epic portfolio of timeless classics that had us in tears from the range of emotions he evoked — sadness, misery, anguish, rage and, of course, pure joy in hilarity. Here are just some memorable roles that Robin played — and ultimately leaves for coming generations who will live in a world without his radiant smile, rubbery face and myriad of accents.

1. Mork. Robin first comes to prominence playing an alien from the Planet Ork from 1978 to 1982 in the sitcom Mork & Mindy, opposite Pam Dawber. An entire generation of audiences is given its first taste of Robin’s manic comedy as oddball goofball. Mork thinks he was sent to Earth to observe humans, but the real reason he was booted off Ork because humor isn’t permitted there.

2. Adrian Cronauer. On Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) Robin is cast as the real-life radio DJ for the Armed Forces Radio Service in Saigon during the Vietnam War. It is reported that Williams himself ad-libs all the humorous broadcasts made in the movie, yet he also shows significant range via dramatic spiels in the war flick.

3. John Keating. Arguably the most memorable Robin flick is the inspiring Dead Poets Society of 1989, where he plays an unorthodox English teacher who sets about touching the lives of his otherwise uninterested students. IMDb.com reports that, “What attracted Robin Williams to the role of John Keating more than anything else was that John was the type of teacher he in his school days always wished he had.” Since then, “carpe diem” or “seize the day” has been attributed to the cherished Robin character.

4. Patch Adams. Serving up equal doses of humor and heartache, this 1998 movie of the same name is about Hunter “Patch” Adams, a real-life doctor who rebels against the system of keeping patients at arm’s length. During filming, reveals IMDb.com, Robin and the other cast and crew “worked closely with Make-A-Wish Foundation to fulfill the fantasies of several children who were at the time undergoing cancer treatment.” Check out the scenes with Robin at the pediatric ward.

5. Dr. Malcolm Sayer. Released in 1990, Awakenings sees Robin back in a doctor’s coat to help catatonic victims of an encephalitis epidemic recover through a new drug. Both Robin and co-star Robert De Niro earn acting nominations for this touching, riveting film based on the memoir of British neurologist Oliver Sacks. Robin, reveals IMDb.com, broke Robert’s nose when he elbowed it accidentally while shooting a scene where Sayer and security guards where trying to restrain Robert’s character Leonard Lowe.

6. Daniel Hillard. The Chris Columbus-megged Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993 is Robin at his hilarious best. Following a bitter divorce from wife Miranda (Sally Field), down-on-his-luck Daniel desperately misses his kids. To spend time with them, he creates an English nanny alter ego, Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, who then applies successfully at the Hillard household. Makeup for that role reportedly took all of four-and-a-half hours each day for Robin.

7. Dr. Sean Maguire. While the 1997 film is an opus and a showcase for actors and writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Good Will Hunting also displays the acting chops of Robin as the therapist for Will Hunting (Matt). The comedy, of course, was there as well. IMDb.com shares that in “the scene where Sean and Will are in his office, and Sean starts talking about his dead wife and her farting antics… these likes were ad-libbed by Robin, which is probably why Matt is laughing so hard. If you watch the scene carefully, you can notice the camera shaking, probably due to the camera laughing as well.”

8. Dr. Chris Nielsen. One of the more depressing and inspiring Robin movies one could ever watch, What Dreams May Come is a fantasy drama film that explores the afterlife and the beliefs people hold about it. Dr. Chris Nielsen dies in a car crash, and is soon joined by his wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra) who is distraught not just by her husband’s death, but the earlier demise of their two kids. Nielsen embarks on an adventure to rescue the soul of Annie from hell. Nielsen utters to his departed dog he finds in heaven: “A place where we all go can’t be bad, can it girl?”

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