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Five memorable performances from Robin Williams

POSTED: August 13, 2014 3:52 p.m.
Jason Merritt, ©istockphoto.com/EdStock/

Williams has undoubtedly touched countless lives through his unique sense of humor, heartfelt dramatic roles, and continuing charitable efforts.

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As the world tries to process the recent news of Robin Williams passing, his wife, Susan Schneider, released the following statement:

"As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

Williams has undoubtedly touched countless lives through his unique sense of humor, heartfelt dramatic roles, and continuing charitable efforts. Ask any fan, or spend 30 seconds on any social media site, and you’ll hear tales of the first time Williams made someone laugh or cry through one of his many performances.
So as we celebrate the man who touched so many, we’re taking a look back at five of the actor’s most memorable performances.

Aladdin
Someone at Disney once had the brilliant idea of taking the whirlwind levity of William’s very adult stand-up routine, and wrapping it into a blue, family friendly cartoon sidekick. Sure, it sounded crazy on paper, but the result was one of the mouse house’s most successful characters ever.

Genie, from the 1992 animated classic, “Aladdin,” still regularly delights audiences as adults introduce and reintroduce the little ones in their lives to the unhinged, blue hero. If you haven’t seen it because “It’s just a kid’s movie,” do yourself a favor this weekend: Go buy your favorite childhood, sugary cereal, put on some footsie pajamas, and enjoy one of the best voice-over performances of all time as you witness the wonderment that is Disney’s “Aladdin.”

Dead Poet Society
“Oh captain, my captain.” Who knew students standing on their desks would mean so much to so many people.
Possibly the quintessential teacher-teaching-outside-the-box movie, the success of “Dead Poet Society” hinges on Williams’ performance, and admit it, you cry every time he thanks his students at the end. If you’re having a Robin Williams marathon this weekend, this film had better be at the top of the video stack.

Mrs. Doubtfire
I don’t believe anyone could have predicted “Mrs. Doubtfire's” influence on the world. The number of pop-culture references tying back to this film and projects that have tried to copy it since its 1993 release is kind of amazing.
Comedies about divorce rarely find their intended audience, and folding into that already touchy subject of a man-in-a-lady-fat-suit just sounds insane. But Williams managed to find that balance between comedy and sincerity, and ultimately sold a very questionable project as a relevant and necessary film.

Good Will Hunting
Williams was nominated for an academy award for Best actor three times, but would ultimately take home a supporting actor award for his work in “Good Will Hunting.”
The film doesn’t shy away from its R rating as it tackles some very heavy issues, but it’s in that turmoil where the story finds its heart and draws some fantastic performances from both Matt Damon and Robin Williams. As far as this list goes, this is definitely the movie where I first connected with Williams. I still get choked up every time I see Sean tell Will, “It’s not your fault.”

Popeye
While still filming “Mork & Mindy,” Williams starred in the big screen, live action version of “Popeye.” Despite what you may think of the movie itself, Williams performance was pretty spot-on. In contrast to Mork, Popeye was actually a challenging character piece, and the world had to take notice that Williams was too talented to be type-cast as the crazy, funny man.
I have to note again that this isn’t a perfect film, but its still very entertaining, and if you’re looking to connect with the actor when he was just getting started, “Popeye” is definitely worth a watch.

Travis has been covering movie news, film reviews and live events for Deseret News and KSL.com since 2010 and co-hosts the FlixJunkies podcast. You can contact Travis at tspoppleton@gmail.com

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