It's been a heart-heavy week in the world of entertainment as Robin Williams' endless celebrity friends have been mourning the late, great comedian who committed suicide last Monday. Mara Wilson, Williams' young costar from the iconic Mrs. Doubtfire, tweeted that she would be taking a break from social media to properly process the loss of Williams, but on Tuesday she had a slight change of heart: Wilson wrote this poignant blog post on her personal Tumblr commemorating her experience working with Williams on the set of Mrs. Doubtfire and their relationship as she became an adult. On his boundless creativity, she recalls:
He was a creator as much as a performer. After one of my friends posted Robin’s “impression of a hot dog” on Facebook, I realized she had no idea that wasn’t in the script. It was supposed to be a monologue where he listed every voice he could do, but he decided to take the ones he’d been given, add more of his own, and just riff for a while. Chris Columbus, our director, would let Robin perform one or two takes with what was written, then do as many more takes as Robin had variations. Sometimes I wonder why they didn’t give him at least partial screenwriting credit.
Wilson remembers Williams as a beacon for children, stopping at nothing to make them smile and feel at ease. But she remembers that as she grew older, she noticed what her mother had once noticed: that when he wasn't exuberantly performing, he was reserved, held back, shy — but still extremely genuine:
As of this past Monday, Robin and I had not spoken in a few years. We weren’t on bad terms, we had just lost track of each other. He was working in films still, I was not anymore, he still lived in California, I’d moved probably nine times since I last had his contact information. The last time I saw him, I was a freshman at NYU and he was filming August Rush in Washington Square Park. I went up to him while he was walking away from the set to his trailer, and called his name. He turned around, not sure what to make of the girl in the glasses and NYU hoodie calling him like she knew him.
“It’s me!” I said. “It’s Mara.”
“Oh, Mara!” He told me how grown up I looked and asked how I liked NYU. It was small talk, but something about the way Robin looked at me made it feel like he truly cared. This was someone for whom everything mattered.
Wilson's blog posts hits on what so many have tried to express in the wake of Williams' death: he was a generational father, providing for all kids that grew up with his movies the kind of care and comfort that seemed impossible to transmit through a screen, and yet he did it. Somehow he made us feel like we weren't alone. He became a surrogate for any child that watched his movies: it seemed like he was talking directly to all those kids that felt like they were a little lost, a little out of place, or just needed someone to make them laugh. As Wilson adorably and heartbreakingly said in Mrs. Doubtfire:
More importantly, Wilson's beautiful post reminds that we should by no means romanticize the tragedy of suicide, and if there's anything to be learned from Williams' death, it's that depression and mental illness need to be better understood. And Williams should not be known as his illness — no one with mental illness should be reduced to a diagnosis: "To focus on someone’s pain instead of their accomplishments is an insult to them. As my friend Patrick put it, a person is a person first and a story second."
She reminds us to reach out to those you love, because you never know who among your loved ones are struggling. You can read the rest of her post here.
Images: 20th Century Fox, Crushable