Movies

Published: Thursday August 14, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday August 14, 2014 MYT 1:26:33 PM

Remembering Robin Williams: 10 characters that made us laugh and cry

As equally adept at making us cry as he was in making us laugh, Robin Williams was a genius at what he did. Here are 10 of his most famous roles.

Mork And Mindy (1978–1982)
“Na-nu, na-nu!”

Williams’ big breakthrough was as Mork the alien from planet Ork, who arrived on an egg-shaped spaceship. Although it was hugely popular, the TV show only lasted four seasons. Shazbot!
Fun fact: When asked to sit down during the audition, Williams sat in the chair upside down, and was later hired because he was “the only alien to audition”.

Popeye (1980)
“I is disgustipated.”

While it was a box office disappointment, Popeye is momentous as it was Williams’ first leading film role. All that spinach finally paid off too, as he moved on to much bigger much greater things…
Fun fact: Popeye wasn’t the first time Williams was in a feature film – he’d appeared as himself in 1977’s Can I Do It ‘Till I Need Glasses?

Good Morning Vietnam (1987)
“Goooooood morning, Vietnam! Hey, this is not a test. This is rock and roll. Time to rock it from the delta to the DMZ!”

Williams shot to stardom with his portrayal of motor mouth military radio announcer Adrian Cronauer, improvising most of his radio announcements in a role that was retooled just for him.
Fun fact: Williams notched his first ever Oscar nomination for Best Actor for this role.

Dead Poets Society (1989)
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

O Captain My Captain, how we all wished we had a teacher like you. Williams’ portrayal of schoolteacher John Keating was moving, inspiring, and made us all want to stand on top of a table just to see things from a different perspective.
Fun fact: Williams was attracted to the role because John Keating was the type of teacher he always wished he had when he was in school.

Awakenings (1990)
“What we do know is that, as the chemical window closed, another awakening took place; that the human spirit is more powerful than any drug.”

Although he wasn’t nominated for any awards for this movie, his portrayal of Dr Malcolm Sayer – the doctor who oversees the “awakening” of an entire ward of catatonic patients – is considered as one of his best non-comedic roles ever.
Fun fact: Williams’ character is based on real-life doctor Oliver Sacks, who wrote the book Awakenings, which the film is adapted from.

The Fisher King (1991)
“There’s three things in this world that you need: Respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis, and a navy blazer.”

Williams played a crazed homeless guy named Parry who was obsessed with finding the Holy Grail. The actor received his second nomination for the Best Actor Oscar for the role.
Fun fact: Michael Jeter, who plays one of Parry’s insane friends here, later played Williams’ roommate at a mental hospital in Patch Adams.

Aladdin (1992)
“It’s all part and parcel, the whole genie gig. Phenomenal cosmic powers! Itty bitty living space!”

As the voice of the Genie, he was a buzzing blue ball of energy that lit up the entire movie. After this performance, we all wished we had a friend like him.
Fun fact: Williams was famously given suggestions of topics instead of a proper script, and a free rein to improvise his dialogue.

Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
“Did you ever wish you could sometimes freeze frame a moment in your day, look at it and say, ‘this is not my life’?”

Williams’ hilarious turn in drag as a dad who impersonates an elderly housekeeper in order to spend more time with his children remains one of his most recognisable roles (even though he is almost unrecognisable under all that makeup).
Fun fact: Williams had recently agreed to reprise the role in an upcoming sequel, which has now been cancelled.

Good Will Hunting (1997)
“Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.”

After two previous nominations, Williams finally won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1988 for this role, stealing the limelight from Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. How’d you like them apples?
Fun fact: Williams ad-libbed the “farting wife” joke in the movie, causing the cameraman to laugh, which is why the camera was shaking slightly during the scene.

Patch Adams (1998)
“You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.”

Another inspirational role that seemed tailor-made for him, Williams played a doctor determined to improve the quality of life of his patients instead of merely making sure they are cured.
Fun fact: Robin Williams did some stand up comedy for students of the University of North Carolina while filming there.

Related stories:

Thank you for the laughs

An inspiration to all

Tags / Keywords: Robin Williams, Mrs Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Mork and Mindy, Popeye, Dead Poet s Society, Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King

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