Four years after his passing, there’s been a sudden and renewed interest in Robin Williams of late. On Monday, HBO will air the documentary, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, which will explore every period of the late comic’s life. Meanwhile, in May, NYTimes culture reporter Dave Itzkoff released the definitive biography of Williams’ life, Robin, which also details the last days of his life, excerpted in Vanity Fair. Williams’ name has even come up in connection with a Gus Van Sant film released this weekend, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Too Far, which was originally set to star Williams before Joaquin Phoenix replaced him after Williams’ passing.
Indeed, Williams’ name seems to be on a lot of lips these days, and last month’s WTF with Marc Maron podcast in which the host interviewed Dave Itzkoff is a must-listen for any fans of Wiliams, if only for the way in which it adds more insight into his career, one as an outsider in comedy circles (Williams was not particularly well respected within the inner circles of the comedy community until very late in his career), or how he mishandled his sudden fame on Mork & Mindy, or even for the way in which Williams kept his massive toy soldier collection a secret from most people.
A more recent WTF with Marc Maron podcast featured one of Williams’ closest friends, Bobcat Goldthwait, who is currently promoting his new series on TruTV, the anthology series Misfits and Monsters, a more comedic spin on shows like The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt or Black Mirror (I’ve seen the opening episode, featuring Seth Green, and it’s suitably funny and disturbing in ways we have come to expect from Goldthwait in his second career as a director).
In any respect, the conversation on Maron eventually turned to Robin Williams. Goldthwait considered Williams to be the “one person out of all of my friends that I was most in touch with,” and he still feels some anger toward Williams for taking his life. Goldthwait says that he has declined to participate in the retrospective about Williams’ life and career because the way that these books and documentaries remember Robin Williams is different from the way that those closer to Williams remember him.
That is, America remembers Williams as the manic stand-up comedian, the star of dozens of hit movies, and the Oscar winner from Good Will Hunting, while Goldthwait remembers him as a friend, as a guy who struggled late in his life to “process reality” because of his Lewy Body Dementia, and as a guy who joked about suicide frequently over the course of their relationship, because that’s what comedians do. “Sometimes people will say to me, ‘Did [Robin] ever talk to you about suicide,'” Goldthwait told Maron during the podcast. “We’re comedians. We talked about suicide for 31 years. Sometimes, we would talk about other things.”
Goldthwait sums up those two different relationships perfectly in something he told Williams’ son, Zak, after his father’s passing. “One of the biggest stars in the world died, and on the same day, your Dad died,” Goldthwait told him. I thought there was something profound in that statement, and something important to remember as we approach the documentaries and biographies on the life and career of Williams. The man we knew is not necessarily the same man that those who were close to him knew, but those two identities can still co-exist.
Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits and Monsters is currently airing on TruTV, while the Williams’ documentary, Come Inside My Mind, premieres on HBO tomorrow night, July 16th.
Source: WTF with Marc Maron