I didn’t see Robin Williams‘ attempt at a new sitcom, CBS’ The Crazy Ones. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to think that the great Robin was, at only 62, already making the trip back to weekly TV half-hours after such a stellar, Oscar-winning career in films and such a bright, unhinged light on comedy stages for all of his career. It’s just too constricting for this kind of talent. It’s even sadder to think the show got cancelled after one season, a failure that must have been hard to take. No, my most recent memories of Robin Williams are on the big screen, where he seemed to be heading for a place of renewal, not only as the funnyman everyone knew, but really a fine dramatic actor. In this year’s The Face Of Love he played a supporting role as a man heartbreakingly trying to start a romantic relationship with the widowed Annette Bening. And although it was a small role, he was excellent, and unrecognizable, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. I thought it would be so nice to see Williams really spread his wings again in roles worthy of his talent. And it appears there are a few on the horizon that he left behind. We can look forward to those.
He was that rare talent who could be just as effective as a wild, crazy, off-the-wall comic as in Oscar-nominated roles like a homeless man in the brilliant The Fisher King, the compassionate English teacher in Dead Poets Society and his Academy Award-winning supporting turn as a psychologist in 1997’s Good Will Hunting. His work opposite Robert De Niro in 1990’s Awakenings was exceptional, and a list of other dramatic performances that left a strong impression include the wonderful The World According To Garp (1982), which merged his comic and dramatic abilities seamlessly; the underappreciated 1998 What Dreams May Come, which explored a man’s world after his death; as well as chilling work in thrillers including Insomnia, One Hour Photo and The Final Cut, to name a few movies. He was really a creepy and convincing villain, folks. But mention the name Robin Williams, and most people will just have a smile on their face. The man’s prodigious dramatic talents were far overshadowed by his singular, frenetic, manic gift for comedy. I am certain that’s how fans want to remember him.