People call those imperfections,
but no, that’s the good stuff.
~Sean (Robin Williams), Good Will Hunting
As the first days of 1992 began I was sitting home alone in my apartment in NJ, wondering what to do next as a deal I had made with myself came due. I now had to address the outcomes and the next steps. Lost and confused, and utterly exhausted, I did the only thing I could … I waited. for what I wasn’t sure. I just knew what I thought I had known, how I knew to be, no longer worked.
During those unbearably long few days at home, in safety, I was numb. My mind barely working and my body less so. I stared at the television to keep the noises inside my head a bay.
At some point I stumbled across a repeat of an interview from several months before. It was the David Frost interview of Robin Williams. Having always admired him, not only for his comedic genius, but for the place from which it sprang, and early on identified with him and viewed him as one of my heroes, I was transfixed.
In this interview he was more of who he was than I had ever seen before. Of course he went into character and went off on tangents, but the gentleness of the genius was there, and in the intimate setting of the interview, he, who he is, remained in the interview the entire time.
His “on” state was genuine, and not just a light switch reaction. In those moments you become a part of his riffs as he takes you with him on the journey through his mind.
The interview was long and deep, and honest. So very honest. The moment it was over, I grabbed a pen and paper and took down the address to write for the copy of the interview. It was a different time. I immediately sent off for the VHS video, and mailing that request is what got me out of the house.
Before I left to mail the request, I made the next phone call. That interview made it clear what my next step had to be. In that sense, Robin Williams saved my life.
Many months later, after watching that video over and over again, I mentioned it to someone in the new group of friends I had, the ones I had called that night. She needed that video, I realized, so I brought it to her. I never did get it back, but that’s ok. She needed it. Hopefully she eventually passed it on to someone else.
Many years later I watched as he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement honor at the SAG awards. As the speakers stood up on stage paying tribute, the camera would show glimpses of the honoree sitting at the table, while others spoke so highly of him and how he’d changed their lives and the direction of the art. You could see in these candid moments the introvert in him, his expression showing clearly how he would rather be anywhere but there, at the center of the attention. When it was his turn to go up on stage, if you looked closely I believe you would see him flip the switch to on, and his mask was in place to face the audience. His speech, I recall, foretold of the strengthening demons, as he apologized to his family for acting more like his character than the man.
Today, on the news of his passing, I want to see that interview again.