Saturday, 5 September 2015

My 10 Favourite Robin Williams Characters

**Caution: this post contains one extremely graphic image



This post is a follow-up to my favourite Robin Williams movies post; this time, I list my top 10 favourite roles of his throughout his acting career. 

As ever, this list is subjective. 

*Last updated 13 May, 2016 


1. Peter Pan - Hook, 1991

Peter Banning was kinda boring, uptight, stuffed-shirted & yet when he went back to Neverland he transformed into Peter Pan: courageous, graceful, daring and caring and who could take on Captain Hook's cronies and beat them up, with the help of the Lost Boys & Tinkerbell. Hook was a terrific movie and Robin Williams made for a great Peter Pan. His performance was second to none and whilst many people champion Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam and The World According to Garp as his best dramatic roles, here he has shown he can also be profound in moments, in addition to delivering a great character performance that appeals to not only kids but adults too, as exemplified during the live- action sequences of this action-adventure Steven Spielberg film. 

Not only is he a great comedian and actor, but as Peter Pan, he successfully embodies and captures the emotion, heart and spirit of the 'boy who wouldn't grow up but did by becoming a man' and manages to demonstrate his physical prowess, during the sword fighting scenes of this film. He was somebody who undertook this role; a character that a lot of people wouldn't normally associate Robin Williams with - and with it, he surprises us with a flip, twist, jumps and attacks. As well as by injecting his 'youth -like' side of his personality to that character, and help bring Peter to life. 

Whether or not this is Robin Williams's most complete performance is up for debate, but Hook is my all-time favourite movie of his he has done. 





2. Mork - Mork and Mindy, 1978 - 1981

What can be said about the character that started it all for Robin Williams's career, other than ''Nanu-Nanu''? Well, I love little ol' Morky, because he was so endearing, funny and so full of life, enthusiasm, but also manic but in a funny and nice way. You can't go wrong with a bit of Mork and Mindy brightening up your lives, particularly Mork himself. From drinking using his finger to using his powers for the greater good, he also had a child-like innocence about him. He always had that child-like quality which endeared him to kids, and which is why the likes of Eugene always took to him as a friend, so well. As Mork, his sense of wonder, curiosity and ways of seeing the world and society through the eyes of another species holds no boundaries. Also enjoyed his Orson life lesson titbits by the end of each episode, as he reflects back on his experiences, whilst being an alien on earth and to offer his own inspirational thoughts and insights. 

If you are an avid Robin Williams fan and aged 30 or over, then I'd say Mork from Mork & Mindy needs to be on your list of favourite RW characters. 






3. Dale Putley - Fathers' Day, 1997

Dale very much reminds me of myself when I was 17 years of age up to my mid-20s in most respects. Apart from the verbal outbursts, going insane & the killing myself part that is. In terms of that, I was a bit of a writer and I was very depressed. Which is why I can totally relate to him a great deal. Of all the characters he has played, Dale spoke to me the most as I feel I had more in common with him than the likes of Peter Pan, Adrian Cronauer, Genie from Aladdin. Although it is and despite being based on the original French movie, I disliked the so-called subtle suicide references, given Robin's passing to suicide; even though they were supposed to be humourous and tongue-in-cheek, that in itself made me think about Robin Williams and his personal struggles, - and it made for uncomfortable viewing. Coincidentally, when this movie came out in May 1997 in the US, 4 months later that same year was when I was at college, as the days went by, I eventually became depressed. When he was about to break down in front of Jack, after telling him he had his penis scolded by hot coffee - as funny as that scene was -, and that he had lost Scott, I felt for Dale. That and that for all of his anxiety attacks and outbursts, his heart was always in the right place and I found him to be very sweet & likeable. 

For all of Robin's dramatic and serious roles, I still love it when he does comedy when he is humourous and silly & still being the fun-loving good guy that he was & will always be. He looked great as his character in this movie, I just love his overall look: from the hair to the clothing and costumes (I had a somewhat weird character crush on him! Must've been that tight Red T-shirt he wore in this movie *swoon*, ahem!) and Robin Williams was just so funny and amusing throughout. There were shades of Mork in Dale when it came to his manic and comedic moments. 

Whereas many Robin Williams fans would opt for Peter Pan from Hook, Genie of Aladdin, John from Dead Poets Society, Mrs Doubtfire, Adrian from Good Morning, Vietnam - all memorable and interesting characters -, I'd go out on a limb and be slightly different and opt for Dale from Fathers' Day. A character who wouldn't end up on many fans lists of favourite Robin Williams characters. 

I said this before and I'll say it again: Fathers' Day would be a mere shadow of the movie that it is, - had it not been for Robin being in this movie and for playing the character of Dale in the way that he did. 

I know that not many people like seeing characters like Dale on screen, but Robin made him into a character that I, or we could sympathise with. Yes, one could say his performance in this movie might have mirrored or echoed his personal problems and his split personality, but I don't read into that that much. Well, I try not to. 

In contrast to the movie critics, I absolutely loved Robin's performance in this movie. He nailed it for me. It may not be the absolute best of his ever, but he made me feel sad and happy for Dale throughout, from beginning to end. 

I loved Dale and Fathers' Day cheers me up, particularly after having such a crappy day. 





4. Genie - Aladdin, 1992

Robin provides the comic relief in this animated Disney feature as the Genie of the lamp. He pretty much owns 'Aladdin' as the big-hearted, charismatic blue fella with his wishes, catchphrases and funny moments. Buoyant, cheerful who can transform into a plethora of characters, ranging from celebrities and cartoon characters, to well, pretty much anything and everything else. And an all-round good guy. 

When it comes to Aladdin, there can be only one genie and that Genie is voiced by Robin Williams himself. 





5. Professor Phillip Brainard - Flubber, 1998 

It's really interesting to see Robin Williams switch from playing a flawed - yet funny character in one movie to an intelligent one, in the same year as Father's Day when Flubber came out in cinemas and movie theatersHere, he plays an absent-minded professor, who comes across as being sweet but also forgetful, as he tries to win back the affections of his girlfriend. It's amusing but also his efforts & sensitive side warms my heart. 






6. Adrian Cronauer - Good Morning, Vietnam, 1987

When you watch this movie, you notice that Robin's comedic energy and timing is remarkable. But also, his character changes from being funny one moment to being poignant, emotional and understanding in another, providing light-hearted moments in a movie that deals with a serious subject matter such as war. It is no wonder that Robin was nominated for an Oscar for his stellar performance - he should have won. Drawing on his experience as a performer who entertained service troops, he brings to life his buoyant personality and charm as DJ Adrian Cronauer. I loved the last 30 mins of the movie, where Robin brings another dimension to his character. I won't spoil it for you, but it was really good and he expressed so much emotion and passion in his performance. 

Adrian Cronauer, in my personal view anyway, is Robin Williams's best all-round performance: comedic and dramatic, energetic and spontaneous, lively and witty, sincere and heart-warming, he really gives it everything and thus, his end product shows in Good Morning, Vietnam.







7. Armand Goldman - The Birdcage, 1996

In this comedy, he plays camp nightclub owner, Armand, giving one of his subtle yet still zany performances. The Birdcage is an outrageous movie outright, and yes, Robin puts on a tremendous portrayal, bringing the character to life.






8.  Batty Koda - Ferngully, 1992

As I mentioned in my 10 favourite Robin Williams movies post, Batty Koda -along with Dale Putley from Fathers' Day - are two of my favourite lesser known and underrated characters/roles of his. He joins Crysta and her friends in their quest to save their world from an evil villain. Batty Koda is a psychotic bat whose crazy antics derive from years of lab testing. Crazy, but also hilarious and funny and some of the lines that come out of his mouth, crack me up. Not to mention sarcastic, witty, tends to be smart and adorkable. Almost everyone knows the Genie from Aladdin when it comes to Robin Williams's memorable performances - yet know little or nothing about Batty Koda, this other animated character he has voiced and of who has a personality and larger-than-life imagination, just like the Disney character. Batty is arguably the main highlight of the movie, Ferngully; despite the story being not as good as Aladdin. And the Batty rap song also gets the thumbs up from me too. 




9.  Dr. Malcolm Sayer - Awakenings, 1990 

So I saw Awakenings a few months ago for the first time; years ago, I had read the synopsis and after that, I wasn't so keen and interested in the movie as I thought it would be boring and I'd lose interest in it. But when I did watch it, I was wrong - it was really good and Robin Williams, never did I think he would pull off such a mesmerising performance as Dr Sayer. But he did and he was simply magnificent, and I really took to his character as well. 

Based on the book by Oliver Sacks, Robin delivered one of my favourite performances of his, as well as one of his finest performances, ever. Dr Sayer is a kind, compassionate, hard-working physician who goes out of his way to attend to and care for other patients in his role. Many of the onscreen roles he has undertaken in his career have been very larger-than-life, often manic, off-the-wall but also taking full advantage of Robin's comedic and acting talents. In Awakenings, however, this is the first time we see his 'human' side of his personality come to fruition in this medical drama directed by Penny Marshall, as he completely consumes the dramatic role with success, and with restraint too. 

For me, he was much more believable and as Malcolm Sayer; I definitely prefer this character much more than Patch Adams out of the two onscreen doctors. Robin Williams was just amazing, believable and inspiring in Awakenings. 






10. Henry Parry - The Fisher King, 1991 

Parry is an ex-teacher turned homeless person, whose life spirals downhill after the horrific death of his wife killed by one of the listeners of Jack's radio show. Thanks to Robin as Parry, he evokes such emotionally charged moments. His portrayal of Parry is so heartfelt, poignant, sad and makes you smile, as well as sad and shed the odd tear. He is such a fragile, flawed - yet sensitive type of character. Parry, as well as Jack, take us on a roller coaster ride of emotions, all culminating in forgiveness, redemption and how a tragic incident from a past life, can still have long-term repercussions. Again, many people rave on about how great Robin was in hits such as Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting - yet completely overlook his performance as Parry in The Fisher King

Because he was just excellent in it. 




Honourable mentions: Alan Parrish (Jumanji), Donald Quinelle (The Survivors), Sean Maguire (Good Will Hunting), Jack Moniker (Club Paradise), John Keating (Dead Poets Society), Patch Adams, Mork (Mork & Mindy animated series) 



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