Robin Williams has died of apparent suicide. Robin Williams was a huge part of so many films that made up a huge part of my youth, so I’m finding a load of thoughts running through my mind. The most prominent is that mental illness, with which Williams always fought (clinical depression and addictive personality) doesn’t discriminate. The wealthy, brilliant, and successful are afflicted just as much as everyone else.
It feels like a part of my childhood just died. The man was undoubtedly a genius. Though he was known for comedic roles, there were plenty of roles where Williams displayed an almost unequaled versatility as an actor. In One Hour Photo he undoubtedly tapped into past episodes of depression to give a phenomenal performance as Sy (in which he turned a movie with all sorts of failed elements into something watchable).
When I was young and coming up in the theater, I looked up to him for that reason. I was a character actor myself and became a buffo baritone when I transitioned into the world of opera (buffos are the character actors of the opera world). I always viewed myself as an actor who sang, not the other way around, and I strove to be able to be proficient in different types of roles the way Robin Williams and John Turturro could.
It’s strange how your life can be touched by people you’ve never met – a tribute to human progress to be sure. It’s a pity that we’ll never know the battles some of them are fighting beneath the surface.
For anybody out there who suffers from depression, who sees all the tributes to Robin Williams…please know that all these people felt this way about him yesterday. It wasn’t Williams’ death that created these sentiments. A broken brain can lie to you. You have people in the world whose lives you have touched. I don’t begrudge anybody taking their own life: I’m fully aware that there are worst things in life than dying. But if you have it in your head that nobody will miss you or that once you’re gone they’ll all see how much they loved you, listen to me on this: you will be missed, and people know that right now.