Robin Williams, 63, has been found dead of asphyxiation. In other words by his own hand. I’m very, very, very sad about this. The poor guy had been wrestling with severe depression, probably in part because his heyday was clearly over and he was on a kind of career downswing. I hate to say this but he was. Life can feel so awful and cruel at times when the heat leaves the room and the candle starts to flicker. The weight can feel crushing and oppressive. And for a guy who seemed to burn a lot more brightly than most of us, certainly in the late ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. A genius improviser, gifted madman and comic superstar for…what, 25 years or so? Williams hadn’t been landing the greatest films or roles over the past decade or so but from the peak of Mork and Mindy fame until One-Hour Photo…what a run! But this…this hurts. It reminds us that we’re all hanging by a thread in a sense, some thinner or stronger or more resolute than others.
Williams’ best films and performances: The World According to Garp (’82), Moscow on the Hudson (’84), Good Morning, Vietnam (’87), Dead Poets Society (’89), Awakenings (’90), The Fisher King (’91), Aladdin (’92), Mrs. Doubtfire (’93), Jumanji (’95), The Birdcage (’96), Good Will Hunting (’97), Insomnia (’02) — 12 films in all. The stinkers included Hook (’91), Toys (’92), Jack (’96), Father’s Day, Patch Adams (’98) , What Dreams May Come (’98), Bicentennial Man (’99), RV (’06) and Old Dogs (’09). His last significant roles were as Dwight D. Eisenhower in The Butler and as a huge pissed-off guy who’s been told he was only a few hours to live in Phil Alden Robinson‘s The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.
Williams recently starred in The Crazy Ones, a CBS sitcom that bit the dust after a single season. A sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire was reportedly in the works. I’m sorry but that would have been hugely depressing in and of itself.
Williams’ wife Susan Schneider released the following to the New York Times‘ Dave Itzkoff: “This morning I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin’s death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”