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Remembering Robin Williams Through His Movies


Robin Williams spent his time in Hollywood bringing laughter and heart to our movie and TV screens. Often regarded as one of the best comedians of all the time, he made his mark in Hollywood through his comedy and vast array of characters.

To celebrate the legacy of Robin Williams, let’s take a look at his life and remarkable career.

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About Robin Williams

Robin Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 21, 1951. While he was a shy boy in his youth, he had a fascination for acting. After studying political science at Claremont Men’s College, Robin Williams transferred to the College of Marin for theater, eventually attending Julliard. In his junior year, Robin Williams dropped out of Julliard to pursue stand-up comedy.

In 1978, Robin Williams was cast in the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy, which helped catapult his career. In the TV show, he played the character of Mork, an alien who comes to Earth and meets a young journalism graduate Mindy (Pam Dawber). After his time in Mork & Mindy, Robin Williams began his long and successful movie career.

Robin Williams movies: Popeye (1980)

Robin Williams’ first starring movie role was the title character in the musical comedy Popeye. The film follows sailor Popeye’s journey to find his father, as he meets crazy characters, discovers an abandoned baby, and falls in love with a woman named Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall).

Because the movie was based on the comic strip of the same name, both Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall could bring out a more animated and cartoonish style of acting. The film grossed about $49.8 after its release on December 6, 1980.

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes:

Other than the line, “I’m Popeye the sailor man,” one of Robin Williams’ most memorable quotes from the movie is when he sings the line “I yam what I yam, and I yam what I yam that I yam.” You can’t refrain from singing along.

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Watch Popeye on Amazon Prime.

Robin Williams movies: The World According to Garp (1982)

Based on the novel by John Irving, The World According to Garp tells the story of struggling writer T.S. Garp (Robin Williams) and his relationship with his family and mother (Glenn Close), a feminist writer who has become a cultural icon. John Lithgow, Mary Beth Hurt, and Swoosie Kurtz also star. The film received two Academy Award nominations, Best Supporting Actress (Glenn Close) and Best Supporting Actor (John Lithgow).

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes: 

While the film isn’t well known for its dialogue, one of Robin Williams’ most memorable quotes from the movie is the line, “I will grieve alone for the rest of my life, but right now I want to be around people who loved her.”

Watch The World According to Garp on Amazon Prime.

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Robin Williams movies: Moscow on the Hudson (1984)

Moscow on the Hudson follows Robin Williams as Vladimir Ivanov, a Russian musician from the Moscow circus who gives up his allegiance to his country after traveling with his troupe to New York City. With help from Bloomingdale’s clerk Lucia (María Conchita Alonso) and security guard Lionel (Cleavant Derricks), Vladimir learns to adjust to American life.

The Chicago Tribune revisited the film in 2018 with an interview with co-screenwriter Leon Capetanos. He explained the movie’s themes are still prevalent in today’s times.

“It’s not easy to be all of a sudden in a foreign land, even though it looks like the gleaming palace on the hill,” he said. “You think, if I can just get to America things will be fine — I’m a good worker, I can make a living, my children can get an education — all these things are in your head that propel you here. But the reality is always more complicated, and you have to be a pretty strong person to figure it all out and make it work.”

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes: 

One of Robin Williams’ funniest lines playing the Russian musician is when he says, “In Moscow, we fought for an inch of freedom! Here you take it and pour shit all over it.”

Moscow on the Hudson is streaming on Amazon Prime.

Robin Williams movies: Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

Robin Williams stars as Adrian Cronauer, a U.S. Air Force Sergeant radio personality who was a DJ on Armed Forces Radio Service in the comedy-drama Good Morning Vietnam. The film is loosely based on Adrian Cronauer’s experience as a radio DJ during the Vietnam war.

While the soldiers appreciate the comedic radio personality in the movie, Sergeant Major Dickerson (J.T. Walsh) tries to censor his disrespectful takes on the war. Simultaneously, Adrian Cronauer meets a young Vietnamese woman Trinh (Chintara Sukapatana), who shares the disaster and horror of the war with him. Forest Whitaker also stars.

Robin Williams won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his portrayal of the radio DJ while also receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. American Film Institute also lists the movie at number 100 for their “100 Funniest American Movies.”

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes: 

Filled with endless improvised comedy, Robin Williams’ most memorable quote is the iconic line, “Gooooooood morning, Vietnam! It’s 0600 hours. What does the ‘O’ stand for? O my God, it’s early!”

Watch Good Morning, Vietnam on HBO Max.

Robin Williams movies: Dead Poets Society (1989)

For English and poetry lovers, Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society tells the story of an all-male elite conservative boarding school in Vermont in 1959. Robin Williams plays John Keating, an English teacher who inspires his students to live their lives to the fullest through poetry. The cast also includes Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen, and Norman Lloyd.

Josh Charles reminisced on the special moments during filming as he spoke with Entertainment Weekly,. “I got to work with Peter Weir and Robin Williams,” he says, “and make a film that has an iconic quality to it that people respond to again, and again, and again.”

The movie won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for three more awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Robin Williams. 

Just watching this one breathtaking scene proves how talented Robin Williams really was.

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes: 

Whether you’ve seen the film in English class or the comfort of your own home, there are so many memorable lines. The one-line most people quote by heart is when Robin Williams says, “Carpe. Hear it? Carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is.

Dead Poets Society is streaming on Amazon Prime.

Robin Williams movies: Awakenings (1990)

Based on the memoir by Oliver Sacks, Awakenings follows neurologist Dr. Malcolm Sawyer (Robin Williams) as he works with a group of patients in a Bronx hospital suffering from the inability to move. Although the Dr. receives skepticism from his peers, he treats the patients with L-Dopa, a drug used for Parkinsonism. Robert De Niro, John Heard, Julie Kavner, Penelope Ann Miller, and Max Von Sydow also star with an uncredited appearance from Vin Diesel.

The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, and Robin Williams received a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Dr. Malcolm Sawyer.

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes: 

Out of all the lines in the movie, the one that stands out is the particular time that Robin Williams says, “The human spirit is more powerful than any drug, and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter. This is what we’d forgotten, the simplest things.”

Watch Awakenings on Amazon Prime.

Robin Williams movies: Hook (1991)

Robin Williams plays the Neverland boy who eventually grew up in Steven Spielberg’s fantasy adventure film, Hook. In a retelling of Peter Pan, Peter Banning (Robin Williams) must return to Neverland after his nemesis Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman), abducts his children. After abandoning his Lost Boys and partner in crime Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts), Peter must regain their trust by getting back to his boyish roots.

In 2016, the actors who played the Lost Boys sat down with Entertainment Tonight to talk about their experience acting alongside Robin Williams in celebration of the film’s 25th anniversary. “He kept the set very alive,” one of the Lost Boys, James Madio, said, “He made sure that he had a relationship with each and every one of us.” 

You can watch the rest of the interview below:

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes: 

I think everyone would agree that the best line from the movie is when Robin Williams’ Peter Pan says, “To live would be an awfully big adventure.”

Hook is streaming on Netflix.

Robin Williams movies: The Fisher King (1991)

In The Fischer King, a radio DJ Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) attempts to redeem himself after one fateful day by helping homeless man Parry (Robin Williams). The cast includes appearances from Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer, and Michael Jeter.

The film went on to earn five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Score.

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes: 

Robin Williams’ most memorable quote from the movie is the comical but heartfelt line, “There’s three things in this world that you need: Respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis, and a navy blazer.”

Watch The Fisher King on Amazon Prime.

Robin Williams movies: Aladdin (1992)

Robin Williams stars as the lovable Genie in the Disney classic Aladdin. The movie tells the story of Aladdin (played by Scott Weigner), a poor well-intentioned thief who gains three wishes after freeing a genie from a lamp. With his wishes, he desires to earn the affection of Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) but gets intertwined with the king Grand vizier Jafar’s (Jonathan Freeman) evil plans.

The actor put his singing chops to the test as he belted out the Genie’s big numbers “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali.” The film was regarded as the highest-grossing film of 1992, earning $504 million worldwide. Aladdin also won two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for “A Whole New World.”

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes: 

Amidst all of the Genie’s crazy quotes, his most special line is when he says, “I’m history! No, I’m mythology! Nah, I don’t care what I am; I’m free hee!”

Aladdin is streaming on Disney+.

Robin Williams movies: Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Robin Williams disguises himself as an older woman to see his children in the comedy-drama film Mrs. Doubtfire. When Daniel Hillard’s (Robin Williams) wife Miranda (Sally Field) files for divorce and is granted full custody, Daniel enlists the help of his brother (Harvey Fierstein) to dress him up as an old nanny, so he can have the chance to be with his kids. Pierce Brosnan, Lisa Jakub, Matthew Lawrence, and Mara Wilson also star.

Lisa Jakub spoke fondly of her time with Robin Williams with PEOPLE, saying, “Robin was everything that you would hope he would be.”

Watch the trailer below:

Memorable Robin Williams Quotes: 

The Golden Globe Award-winning movie has endless catchphrases, but the most hilarious quote in particular is, “My first day as a woman and I’m getting hot flashes.”

Watch Mrs. Doubtfire on Amazon Prime.

Robin Williams movies: Jumanji (1995)

Jumanji follows Alan Parrish (Robin Williams), a man who has been trapped in a jungle-style board game for 26 years after getting sucked in as a young boy. While he gets freed by a brother and sister (Bradley Pierce and Kirsten Dunst) who opened the game. The game unleashes into the real world, and they need Alan’s friend Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) to finish it.

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After grossing $263 million worldwide, the movie created a franchise with a TV series that aired in the ‘90s and two follow-up films starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan.