Like many in my part of the world, I awoke this morning to the news that comedy legend Robin Williams had passed away, apparently from suicide stemming from depression.
As a young kid in the 90s, one of my first (and all-time favourite) encounters with Mr Williams was in his stupendous turn as Genie in Aladdin. Even as a little boy with no idea about the nuances and difficulties of voice acting, I knew that the “uncle” behind the big blue goof had to be someone special.
I was never a manic Williams fan who’d devour every new release of his the moment it came out but I caught my fair share of his shows over the years and they’re all testaments to how great he was as an actor. He made us laugh, he made us cry, he made us laugh again.
His comedic ability was not limited to his movies but was also displayed in his various improvs and stand-up shows. I mean, even several scenes in Aladdin were just him improvising his way into cinematic gold. That he was an amazing actor (both in comedy and drama) was always evident.
What’s even more heartbreaking about his departure, however, are all the stories coming out now about how nice a guy he just was. Many times when a celebrity passes, most focus on the talent that had been lost but, just in the last few hours alone, I’ve seen so many anecdotes about how he had touched people’s lives in personal, individual ways and how he always spread joy to those around him, even off screen.
The world didn’t just lose one of its most phenomenal comics of all time, someone who brought laughter and tears to generations of viewers, both children and adults alike; it lost someone even rarer – someone who seemed to be just a genuine Really Good, Really Nice Person. It’s so sad that the person who brought smiles to millions of faces across the world couldn’t keep one for himself in the end.
Rest in peace, Robin Williams. I pray that you’re in a place now that makes you as happy as you’ve made so many of us.
ps. Depression is an insidious, cruel enemy. If you or someone you know needs help, the suicide prevention hotlines for many countries can be found here. Depression lies. You are not alone.