The world is currently suffering a serious case of the sads today. Robin Williams brought laughter and enjoyment to so many and, as a comic, re-established fast-paced, character comedy for a whole new generation and his loss will deeply be felt. But Williams also had his demons, battling with alcohol and drug addiction as well as crippling depression. It is perhaps this side of Williams’ personality that helped him traverse comedy and create such memorable, broken characters as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting.
Mrs Doubtfire, Mork, Aladdin’s Genie: we all know Williams for joyfully larger than life characters, but not all of his best work has been as widely recognised. Here are some Robin Williams’ other great roles that you may not be as familiar with.
Vladamir Ivanoff – Moscow on the Hudson (1984)
Only his fifth movie credit of his career, ‘Moscow on the Hudson’ is set in Soviet Russian in the early 1980’s following the story of a Moscow Circus Saxophonist played by Williams as he defects to the US whilst on a trip over there. A true ‘fish out of water’ film, Williams’ accent may be questionable but this is a comedy with a tender touch which gives audiences a glimpse of what he is capable of and earning him a Golden Globe nomination.
Jack Powell – Jack (1996)
Don’t let the trailer fool you, what could have been a wacky comedy about a boy who grows physically four times faster than usual is actually one of Williams’ most beautiful films. Watching him play a 10-year-old boy opens up your eyes to his abilities as an actor but possibly also into the inner child of Williams himself. Lost and unable to fit it, Jack has to find the courage within him to come to terms with how he appears and who he is. A moment that never ceases to bring a tear to the eye is when he asks his teacher to the dance.
Jakob Heym – Jakob the Liar (1999)
Set in German-occupied Poland in 1944, Williams plays a Jewish-Polish shopkeeper who, after overhearing some news on the radio in a German office, returns to his Ghetto and tells everyone about it. This sparks rumours that there is a radio in the Ghetto. This is a story of hope and perseverance that gives you an idea of the kind of resilience Williams is capable of. This was a difficult role and involved a lot of torture and death but Williams does not over-do it as you may expect but is subtle and understated in his approach.
Seymour Parrish – One Hour Photo (2002)
Even though Insomnia came out earlier in 2002 and gave us our first look at the ‘sinister’ side Williams could create, it was his portrayal of ‘Sy the photo guy’ in One Hour Photo that sent shivers down our spine. Simultaneously creeping us out and making us feel for this obviously lonely man. This was the beginning of the ‘less is more’ Robin Williams that we love so much and awarded him vast amounts of industry praise.
Lance Clayton – World’s Greatest Dad (2009)
Possibly William’s best performance of his career. Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, the plot revolves around a father taking advantage of his son’s suicide. We won’t go into any more detail as this is a film you have to see if you haven’t already. Williams manages to show an affection for his hateful son whilst also a hunger for recognition he feels he deserves. Again, this is a tender film but with many dark elements that became Williams’ trademark towards the end of his career.