|Dustin Hoffman & Robin Williams, Hook, 1991|
I will never forget a period of time in my childhood whenever it was time for bed, either my sisters or I would say right before we’d turn out the lights, “Goodnight Neverlaaaaaaaannnndd!” Steven Spielberg’s Hook was one of the few films we’d watch what seemed like everyday. Any time one of my siblings or a friend we’d encounter was in a position of needing help, we’d say “yeah come on, give him a chance!” Repeating any line we could at any time we could from the film. It just became apart of our lives.
Robin Williams, the star of the film, naturally became an instant part of our hearts. My parents had grown to love him with his earlier work such as “Mork & Mindy”, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Dead Poets Society, to name a few. I remember enjoying his enthusiasm as a child while I watched Sesame Street and him going over the concept of “sharing”. He was playing with a stick with one of the puppet characters and pretended it was all sorts of things like a sword, a flag, etc. but then he said, “The greatest thing I can do, is share it with you.” As a child, I remember this putting a smile on my face and enjoying everything this man had to offer. His most wonderful characteristic that I remember during my childhood was his high level of energy and always keeping me on the edge of my seat, interested in what he was going to do next!
I was hooked, my family was hooked (no pun intended); so next came Jumanji that we experienced together as a family. This was that film where we were telling everyone who hadn’t seen it yet to do so immediately! I remember my father hadn’t seen it yet, and my sisters and I were so excited for him to experience it with us for his first time. My father is the kind of person where movies have become a sedative for sleep. You really have to earn his attention when presenting a cinematic story to him; otherwise his body uses the concept of sitting in comfortable chair while watching a movie, as a perfect way to get the sleep it needs. Well, I can recall him saying, “Yeah if this wasn’t that good, I would’ve definitely fell asleep!” We watched that film over and over and over, because we loved it and once again we grew to love Robin Williams as a beloved man who could bring a smile to our faces and joy to our hearts.
There are so many instances like this where I can recall his work influencing my life. When I was in film school studying for my mid-term exams, I remember having to select a film to re-create a scene from. I chose Good Will Hunting. Having not seen the entire film yet, but with just a few scenes from Williams that we studied in class, I felt compelled to choose this film! I made sure to watch the entire film to study up for my exam and I remember loving it so much that I bought it before seeing all of it, just the few scenes of him I had witnessed in class. No wonder he won the Oscar that year for his performance in it.
He brings smiles to our faces and joy to our hearts. Had he not been blessed with the gene of humor, he would’ve still blown us away with his work as a dramatic actor. Truly, he was an all around talented artist! I can remember having tears witnessing his work in an episode of Law & Order, which covered a serious issue of “control”. Or feeling that “nitty gritty” feeling down to my bones with a role he played in One Hour Photo. He has proven time and time again that he can affect our lives on both ends of the spectrum and everything in between with everything he does.
Whenever he would go on the Today Show, he would always stay and converse with fans, shake hands, take pictures, and genuinely want to support the people who’s lives he’s touched with his genuine spirit, his effortless ability to make us laugh, and his beautiful heart. That’s the man that the Today Show wanted to highlight.
That’s the man I remember bringing joy to my life as a boy, dreaming I was Peter Pan; or helping to teach me the concept of sharing as a child.
It brings major tears to my eyes to know the world is without his living presence. But his spirit will live on forever, and hopefully, definitely, he’ll bring inspiration, hope, and joy to people for countless years to come!
That’s what’s he done for me!
July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014