Remembering Robin Williams, One Year Later
Tuesday marks one year since the world got a little darker.
On August 11, 2014, beloved comedian Robin Williams committed suicide by hanging himself inside his home in Paradise Cay, California after battling with depression, Parkinson’s disease, and diffuse Lewy body dementia. He was 63.
Later that night, writer Janelle Nanos revisited the recordings from her 2013 oral history of Good Will Hunting for Boston magazine:
Monday night, shortly after hearing of Williams’ death, I found the recording of our conversation and listened to it again in a new light. Here was a man who has obviously struggled with his own demons throughout his life, yet he could look back on a role 15 years later and still revel in the wonder it brought to audiences…His honesty and candor as we spoke was almost disarming; here was the voice of a man so full of life and so sincerely appreciative of all that it offers, and now he’s gone. Robin Williams, we were so fortunate to know you.
In Nanos’ comprehensive oral history, co-star Matt Damon reflected on what Williams brought to the film, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor:
Robin’s best addition is the last line of the film. There was nothing scripted there. He opens the mailbox and reads the note that I had written him. Gus and I were right next to the camera, because every time he came out for a new take I would read the letter to him because it’s a voiceover. He came out saying different lines every single time. When he said, ‘Son of a bitch stole my line,’ I grabbed Gus. It was like a bolt, it was just one of those holy-shit moments where, like, that’s it.
In the days following Williams’ death, many flocked to the Public Garden, where his character in the film explains love and loss to Damon while sitting together on a bench beside the pond. Fans scrawled their favorite lines from Williams’ expansive body of work on chalk around the bench, and later petitioned for a bronze statute to be a erected in his memory.