Robin Williams: Come Inside my Mind, directed by Marina Zenovich
There are many touching passages and exhilarating moments in this documentary that offers an interesting perspective on the life and the work, television presence, formidable cinematic roles and standup acts of the regretted, brilliant Robin Williams.
As stated by the comedians, stars, relatives, friends interviewed for this feature, the departed show man was a phenomenal talent, effervescent, with an energy, vitality, perseverance, engagement, kindness, generosity that is hard – if not impossible – to equal.
Billy Cristal has been a close friend for many years, engaged with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg in some charitable projects, wherein they would perform and money would go to noble causes, but furthermore, they would promote those projects and others would get involved and make them a success.
If we think of the classic Adventures in the Screen Trade by the wondrous William Goldman and the stories we learn there about the pettiness, self-importance and absorption of most stars, the unselfish, forward, involved robin Williams stands out even more brilliantly.
He went to perform in the Middle East, where American men and women fought in theaters of operations, with dedication, creativity- there is one scene where with the artist on stage, the national anthem is played in the background, making all service men and women turn back to face the flag and the music supposedly.
The spontaneous, marvelous, frenetic performer uses this as a joke, stating he had never had an audience turn back on him like that, with everyone suddenly facing the other way…
Billy Cristal talks with nostalgia about the various moments which show how inventive, mesmerizing this stupendous actor could be – one recollection refers to the day when Ronal Reagan was buried, the phone rings and a voice close to the late president’s - robin Williams was also celebrated for this impersonations – says something like:
This is Ronald Reagan, I am calling from heaven…it is very warm here; actually, I think it is quite hot…Billy Cristal responds that perhaps he is in the other place…
Robin Williams was a complex man, exuberant, elated to the point of otherworldliness on stage, with an audience – one of the friends remarks that he was addicted, depended on the public – and yet very quiet, presumably haunted by the infamous “Black Dog” of depression mentioned by Winston Churchill, who experienced very dark periods as well.
Eric Idle refers to the habit that the late comedian had of taking his bike for very long, over seventy miles long rides, during which he might have tried to exorcise demons, perhaps issues of self-worth.
On the other hand, Robin Williams got a high from humor, making continuous jokes on the set of One Hour Photo for instance, wherein he has the role of the villain, but he prepared for his scenes by provoking his partners, laughing and obtaining a glow on his face, which makes for an outré appearance in some of the very good acting on that feature.
In his private life, the actor has been married three times – after that, he again jokes on the set of the Late Show, they should take a limb out if there are other nuptials – the first marital relationship was happy, but the work, career has interfered towards the end.
The separation made some headlines because the comedian becomes involved with the baby sitter – the first wife explains on camera that she does not talk to the press and therefore her lack of response has been attributed to acrimony and extreme disappointment over the rapprochement.
Effervescent, possessed, incandescent as he was on stage, on set, the actor was very quiet in preparation – sometimes for long periods at the ranch where his first wife lived with him, between jobs.
TIME Magazine has prepared an article on the incredible phenomenon and assigned a photograph to travel with him on planes, hotels and he recalls the strange periods of extreme silence.
Just before the show, at one time, the photographer thought that the performer is asleep; he was so quiet, laid back in an attitude of Zen serenity…Serenity Now! If we think of Seinfeld.
Another passage that might stay with the viewer of this documentary is filmed at the Critics’ Awards, where three colossal actors have been nominated for the big prize – Robin Williams for One Hour Photo, Jack Nicholson for About Schmidt and Daniel Day Lewis for The Gangs of New York, with Selma Hayek – was she? – announcing there is a tie…between Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day Lewis…
Jack Nicholson, in his familiar, superior, slightly amused, floating above manner invites Robin Williams to say some words and the Showman is brilliant…
He is offered by the two winners as compensation – he says – the piece of paper with the other two names, he states that the Critics have pretty much said fuck you Robin Williams with this bizarre, really offensive tie between two of the three nominees, when the only decent option would have been to put all three on the paper…
Robin Williams ends up saying he came with no expectations and leaves the ceremony with no expectations…
It was a Buddhist night for him…what a sensational, divine gift for improvisation!