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The best of Robin Williams: From Mork to Mrs Doubtfire

Published on Aug 12, 2014 10:52 AM
 
Actress Pam Dawber (left) shares a laugh with actor Robin Williams as they pose for photographers before the annual American Museum of the Moving Image Tribute dinner in New York in this Feb 23, 1995 file photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Mork &  Mindy (1978-1982)

Robin Williams broke out in this hit comedy series playing an alien named Mork with the instantly recognisable greeting of "Na-nu, na-nu". Pam Dawber played his human roommate Mindy in this spin-off of the long-running Happy Days (1974-1984) sitcom.

He was making a splash with his trademark manic style of improvisational comedy even then. Explaining his comic style, he said: "You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

The role earned him the first of six Golden Globes in 1979.

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)


This file photo taken on Sept 4, 1988 shows Robin Williams at a press conference for his film Good Morning Vietnam at the Festival de Cinéma Américain in Deauville. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

He received the first of his three Oscar nominations for Best Actor here, though he never did win in the category, eventually picking up the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for 1997's Good Will Hunting. Instead, he won a Golden Globe for the role.

Set in Saigon in 1965, he played a radio deejay who is popular among the men but riles his bosses in this war comedy, whose title will always be ingrained in viewers' minds as "Goooooooood morning, Vietnaaaam!" just as Williams said it on screen.

Dead Poets Society (1989)


Cinema still from Dead Poet's Society starring Robin Williams. -- PHOTO: SCV

While best known for doing comedy, Williams also had the range to take on dramatic roles. In this well-loved coming-of-age drama about an English teacher who inspires his students, he earned his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Among those who hailed him with "O Captain! My Captain!" at the end of the film were actors Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles.

The Fisher King (1991)


Cinema still from The Fisher King starring Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams -- PHOTO: MEDIAWORKS

His third Oscar nod for Best Actor came for playing a deluded homeless man searching for the Holy Grail. It did, however, win him the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical.

Aladdin (1992)

As the motormouth blue genie, Williams stole the show and proved that star power could work when it came to voice-casting. The part, which nabbed a Golden Globe, was specifically penned for him by writers-directors Ron Clements and John Musker. Williams would go on to do voice roles in films such as Robots (2005) and Happy Feet (2006).

Mrs Doubtfire (1993)


Cinema still from Mrs Doubtfire Starring Robin Williams. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

What can be funnier than putting Williams in a dress and faking a British accent? Not much. The film, which brought him another Globe, is his second-highest grossing film in the United States with domestic takings of US$219 million. Only in the fantasy adventure Night At The Museum (2006), in which he plays Theodore Roosevelt, earned more. A sequel was reportedly in the works, with both director Chris Columbus and star Williams slated to return.

The Birdcage (1996)


Cinema still from The Birdcage starring Robin Williams (left) and Nathan Lane as a gay couple. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Williams paired with fellow comedian Nathan Lane in this remake of the French-Italian comedy La Cage aux Folles (1978). They acted as a gay couple who have to cover up their relationship when Williams' son falls for the daughter of a conservative politician. Williams played against type by taking on the role of the less flamboyant Armand.

Good Will Hunting (1997)


Cinema still from Good Will Hunting starring Robin Williams and Matt Damon (right). -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Williams finally wins an Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor, by playing a therapist who tells Matt Damon that things are not his fault. The film, for which Damon and Ben Affleck also won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, was anchored by the relationship between Damon and Williams' warm and tender father-figure therapist.

Accepting the award, he said: "Most of all, I want to thank my father, up there, the man who when I said I wanted to be an actor, he said, 'Wonderful. Just have a back-up profession like welding.'"

Patch Adams (1998)


Cinema still from Patch Adams starring Robin Williams -- PHOTO: MEDIACORP

Critics did not warm to the film but you could see why the comedy-drama about a doctor who believes in the healing power of laughter would appeal to Williams. The real Patch Adams was not impressed either and criticised the film for merely portraying him as a funny doctor. Still, the appeal of Williams as a funny doctor carried the movie past the US$200 million mark worldwide.

One Hour Photo (2002)


Cinema still from One Hour Photo -- PHOTO: MEDIACORP

This was one of Williams' darkest and creepiest roles as a lonely photo technician who develops an obsession with one family in particular. Jack Nicholson was first approached for the role but he turned it down. The resulting film and Williams' performance were generally well-received and he won a Saturn Award for Best Actor.


Here are some videos of Robin William's influential and inspiring work.

 

Videos