Thursday, August 21, 2014
When I first heard of Robin Williams' suicide, my initial thought was, He was so talented and accomplished. What would he have to be depressed about? That is the complexity and misnomer of depression: That it only afflicts those who have something to be depressed about.
I once asked an actor friend what makes a great actor. She explained that "You don't see the celebrity or the actor; you see a really great character."
Williams had that talent, able to move seamlessly between the comedic genius that got him established and into serious and even dark roles with equal talent and intensity. Some comedic actors struggle with the transition. Williams made it look easy. As famous as he was, as distinctive as he looked, you didn't see Robin Williams when he was acting: You became so pulled into the character he was portraying, he disappeared and a great character took form and walked around inside your mind. I read one fan's description as he was one of the few actors able to take the formless dreamlike state we have and make it exist in waking time.
Even in comedic roles like Mrs. Doubtfire, Williams could cast a pained and troubled gaze, perhaps something that he culled from his own depths. In light of his passing, this saddens me. He was likely a deeply sensitive soul whose success just didn't outpace his struggles.
He was truly one of the greatest acting talents of our time, and he left a tremendous body of work to be remembered by. The world dimmed a little when he took his life, and a palpable loss shook both the professional acting community and the fans he touched. His time wasn't finished on earth, but he will live on.