Less than a month before the four-year anniversary of his death, Robin Williams will be remembered yet again with the premiere of Emmy Award-winning documentarian Marina Zenovich’s latest, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind. The film explores the famed comedian’s contributions to the craft, and to the world at large, from his debut during the ‘70s heyday to his passing in 2014.
The documentary combines interviews with Williams, who serves as his own narrator of sorts, with comments from friends and fellow performers like Billy Crystal, Eric Idle, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin and Pam Dawber, as well as his son Zak Williams. Yet this won’t be the first time many of these famous individuals have spoken out about what the comedy actor meant to them. Many have been talking about it since the day he died.
How comics remember Robin Williams
The day the news broke, Williams’ Comic Relief colleagues, Crystal and Goldberg, said the samething on Twitter: “No words.” They later opened up about the matter on “The View,” where Goldberg serves as a co-host, following Crystal’s tribute to their late friend at the Emmy Awards. “He was such a great, dear friend of ours, and such a joyous spirit,” he told her. “He was such an amazing person. He was the most brilliant performer you could ever imagine.”
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Of course, they weren’t the only people whose lives and careers had been affected by Williams. Hence why so many stars had so many wonderful things to say about the man whose work had meant, and still meant, so much to them. Like Ben Stiller, whose parents performed with Williams at comedy clubs, and who himself got to work with the legend on the Night at the Museum films.
“His kindness and generosity is what I think of. How kind he was to anyone who wanted to connect with him. And he could not help but be funny all the time. He would do something as long as it would keep you laughing,” he told Rolling Stone. “He made many, many film crews laugh out loud before the audiences ever saw it. He made such a big impact on the world. So there is the man, and his talent and I think in his case both were extraordinary.”
In the weeks that followed, others spoke with various outlets about Williams’ death, and the impact his life had on them. The Guardian, in particular, interviewed several American comedians at the time. Margaret Cho, whose family’s bookstore in San Francisco was visited frequently by Williams, recalled the awe of learning how to do stand-up in his presence.
“As an artist, Robin Williams represented the dizzy heights of brilliance we could aspire to,” she said. “He was absolutely free and absolutely stunning -- he could do anything and often did.”
Others, like Louie Anderson and Chris Gethard, credited Williams with inspiring their particular brands of comedy. “He made me want to work the audience, be off the cuff, be better, take more risks. We were in the same arena but I was more of a guernsey, a milk cow, and he was a crazy wild steer,” Anderson explained. “He showed us that the sky’s the limit.”
“Robin Williams is a big reason I wanted to be an improviser, which has become the foundation of my whole career,” said Gethard, who hosts The Chris Gethard Show on truTV. “When I watched his specials, he seemed very happy when things fell apart, when curveballs came his way, when he could walk into a direction no one saw coming, least of all himself. It was riveting and inspiring.”
There are plenty more where these came from, both just after the new of Williams’ suicide broke in August of 2014, and in the years since. And if the arrival of Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind on Monday is any indication, such nostalgic reveries won’t be dissipating anytime soon.
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind release date
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind premieres Monday, July 16, at 8 p.m. on HBO.