When I heard the news about Robin Williams' suicide, my first thought was "of course." That was mixed with a very instant and heart rending sadness.
I'm not going to try to gloss over the fact that he made a metric fuck ton of shit in his career - perhaps even more shit than good - but the good, the great was game changing. I say this as someone who was unmoved by Garp, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam or Dead Poets' Society. Take those four off the board and there is still Jumanji, Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, Awakenings and that time he broke how situation comedies worked... Mork and Mindy. With that kind of resume, who cares that he also did Toys, Jack, Death to Smootchy and, yes, The Crazy Ones? He had plenty to take pride in. And yet... Fame, fortune, awards and accolades, respect and love meant jack shit in the end.
It wasn't exactly a secret that he was troubled, yet most of us managed to ignore it. But looking back... Mork's smile seems pretty forced, and most of his most brilliant (and even joyous) roles (even those I felt unmoved by) were all deeply steeped in melancholy. He was the Charlie Chaplin of the turn of the 20th/21st Centuries. A genius comic, whose comic insight was born in an immortal sadness that also made him a great dramatic actor.
All of a sudden it seems a miracle we had him around as long as we did.
This is going to sound bad at first, but perhaps his death by his own hand was the right way for him to go - his last blessing upon the world. Perhaps the spotlight that his death is putting upon depression is what the illness needs. A bit perhaps like Rock Hudson did for the AIDS crisis. It's not quite the right comparison, but its about as close as we are likely to find.
I never met Robin Williams, but I do have an odd and ironic connection to him. Ask me about it some day - this isn't the place. But none the less, when I got the news, I quit thinking of Robins Williams in terms of Hook, Club Paradise, RV and the other detritus that fills up his body of work - 'cause that stuff doesn't matter. Those are the performances that happen when someone is willing to take a risk - and his entire career was built upon taking those kinds of leaps. Every now and then his leaps would lead to something like The Fisher King - a performance of divine beauty... and that (to be selfish for a moment) is what we are really being robbed of. And for that I cried. In public. It was small, but I couldn't hide it. A cashier at the toy store I was in brought me a tissue (I credit her for being really observant) and I coaxed my daughter outside, where she asked me "Daddy, why are you talking funny?" I don't think I could possibly explain to her the loss I felt - so many of us felt these past two days. I urged her to go play in the waterpark, while hundreds of other people also ran about gleefully too - clearly none of them had received the news....