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O captain, my captain: A look at Robin Williams' finest roles

On the birth anniversary of late Hollywood star Robin Williams, we pay a tribute by remembering some of his best performances

Every once in a while, an up-and-coming actor strikes a chord with his audience and ends up a celebrity. His demise can have a profound effect on his legions of fans and admirers — even his detractors take a minute to recover from what feels like a great personal loss. Robin Williams was, perhaps, one such Hollywood star, who passed away on August 11, 2014. That he committed suicide while battling severe depression makes the death of someone who was hailed as one of Hollywood’s most gifted comedians, a tragedy.

Robin Williams, Hollywood’s most gifted comedians, passed away on August 11
Robin Williams, Hollywood’s most gifted comedians, passed away on August 11

Language was invented for one reason, boys — to woo women! Dead Poets Society, 1989

As the world observes his birthday on July 21, hitlist remembers the multifaceted artist for his effortless portrayal of diverse characters on-screen, his extraordinary work as a voice actor and vivacious off-screen persona. Although Williams has portrayed troubled protagonists in a handful of dramas and thrillers, he is best remembered for his one-line wisecracks and comic timing in Mrs Doubtfire, Aladdin and Jumanji. We raise a toast to one of the most beloved stars from showbiz.

Good Will Hunting: Williams won an Oscar for his exemplary portrayal of widowed therapist Sean Macguire. The movie, written by stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, recieved universal critical acclaim and  Williams’s four-minute monologue on life and loss was hailed a masterpiece.

A still from one of Williams’s most celebrated roles in Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
A still from one of Williams’s most celebrated roles in Mrs Doubtfire (1993)

Why can’t we treat death with a certain amount of humanity, and dignity, and decency, and God forbid, maybe even humour. Death is not the enemy, gentlemen. If we’re going to fight a disease, let’s fight one of the most terrible diseases of all, indifference. — Patch Adams, 1998

Dead Poets Society: ‘Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary’. If you love literature, beauty, love or just life in general, you shouldn’t miss this movie. This inspirational drama about a tormented English teacher, who inspires his students to pursue extraordinary lives, remains a cult classic.

Mrs Doubtfire: Williams wooed the audience with his role as a father and husband in the middle of divorce, who disguises himself as his kids’ nanny, in order to spend time with them. But most importantly, this role won him the love and affection of children worldwide.

Robin Williams after his Oscar win for Good Will Hunting (1997)
Robin Williams after his Oscar win for Good Will Hunting (1997)

There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be - Bicentennial Man, 1999

World’s Greatest Dad: Williams’ portrayal of a single father who tackles  professional failures and life’s many trials with a smile, is legendary.

Insomnia: The thriller is a testament to Williams’s versatility as an actor. In stark contrast to his previous performances, here he essays the role of a crime writer who is also prime suspect in the murder of a 17-year-old, with chilling ease.

Remembered for
>> Over the course of a respected and distinguished career, Williams won five Grammys, five Golden Globes, two Emmys, an Oscar and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Quite an achievement, for someone who started as a stand-up comedian.
>> Post Williams’s death, US President Barack Obama said, “He was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien, but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.”
>> During the 66th Emmy Awards, Billy Crystal paid tribute to Williams, fondly referring to him as ‘the brightest star in our comedy galaxy.’
>> Jimmy Fallon also paid tribute to him on his show and broke down while performing on set. He referred to him as the ‘Muhammad Ali of comedy’.

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