Robin Williams dead at 63
Robin Williams has been found dead in his Tiburon, California, home. He was 63.
News of Williams's death gained some traction on Twitter through NBC's Bay Area affiliate, and was later confirmed by Variety.com and Entertainment Weekly. (The Good Will Hunting Oscar winner had been erroneously killed off in a Twitter death hoax in 2012.)
According to the Marin County Sheriff's official statement: "At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made."
Williams, who recently checked into rehab after a lifelong battle with drug and alcohol addiction, was said to be suffering from "severe depression". In a 1995 interview with the Georgia Straight for the film Jumanji, he discussed the "pains and fears" that fuelled his comedy. Wrote Ian Caddell:
"He cites comic Richard Pryor, who gave Williams his first break when he hired him to appear regularly on his short-lived mid-1970s television variety show, as someone who inspired him to take the pain and turn it into humour. 'Richard Pryor has been through the most painful life on the planet. He’s the only man who could make a joke about the fact that as he lay dying from setting fire to himself, some guy blew the smoke away and said "Richard, how about giving me that last autograph?" You have to have a way of dealing with the fears of this surreal world of being a celebrity. Someone said that a punch line is a grievance unanswered. For me, comedy was, and still is, a good way of meeting people, but also, it is very therapeutic in terms of dealing with pain and fear."
Three years later, while promoting What Dreams May Come, Williams talked to the Straight about the emotional dangers inherent in acting:
“You have to have enough control so that you don’t break down sobbing for two hours, because this kind of stuff is so intense that you may get to that point. You might come to a point where you will almost have a breakdown, because at the end you have to take it as far as you can, to where you’re empty. You’re going through every known emotion, in terms of loss and life and love. On the other side of that emotion, of that journey, lies deep, over-the-edge depression. If you go over the edge and you want to pull yourself back, how do you do that?”
He'll always be remembered for his breakout role on television's Mork & Mindy, but if you're looking for some of the hidden gems in Williams's extensive filmography, how about dialling up 2002's Vancouver-lensed Death to Smoochy, One Hour Photo, World's Greatest Dad, Moscow on the Hudson, or even Robert Altman's unfairly maligned Popeye for a good all-nighter?