Robin Williams was one of those actors that you kind of took for granted. He may not have been majorly in the public eye during recent years but there was a certain amount of comfort in the thought that he was quietly kicking about somewhere, doing his thing and making people laugh. A lot has been said during the past few hours as those who had worked with him pay their heartfelt respect but they are few compared to the number of fans he leaves behind. We’ve already heard from those who have lost a friend, a colleague, someone they knew – which makes it all the more strange for us: the fans; the people who felt like we knew him purely due to the impact and longevity of his work. It’s a bizarre and almost irrational thing – to develop an emotional response over the death of someone who you’ve never even met, and yet you only need take one look at Twitter today to see how many people are sharing the same feeling.
Robin Williams was an actor who most of us took for granted. In the coming days we’re likely to hear quotes from all corners of his lengthy body of work, all of which show just how impressive his career really was. When I was growing up in the mid-90’s, it felt like you couldn’t enter a video shop or cinema without seeing a huge cardboard cut-out of Williams’ face. Today’s twentysomethings were lucky enough to grow up during the actor’s mainstream prime – Hook, FernGully, Aladdin, Toys, Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji, Jack, Good Will Hunting – yes, even Flubber – I probably spent more time with Robin Williams during summer holidays than my actual friends. For some he’ll always be Mork form Ork but for people my age (I’m 27, by the way), he was the cool paternal figure of 90’s cinema and the unpredictable presence that made any movie he was in electric. He was also one of the only comedians in recent history to make that near-impossible jump from class clown to Academy Award recipient. Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell – many have tried yet few have succeeded. Williams managed it.
Most of us fans were never going to meet Robin Williams, let alone work with him on a professional level so we can’t gush about how we’ve lost a close friend or a personal acquaintance. For fans, the real loss is his contagious humour, his warm and always welcome on-screen presence and the exciting thought of what might’ve come next.
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