Robin Williams was in many of my favorite films, among them Dead Poets Society, One Hour Photo, and The Final Cut. And, from what I can gather from Stefan Molyneux’s video, it would appear that Robin Williams’ work reflected his life in a few telling ways throughout his career.
Art imitated Williams’ life in Jumanji, where we catch a glimpse of the parental relationship of his early boyhood. Williams himself was apparently a lonely young boy who lived in a big mansion devoid of parental presence. Much like himself, the character of Alan Parrish had a monied lineage; had a strained relationship with his father; and was bullied by other children. Alan fought his father’s wishes for him to go away to a boarding school. It makes me wonder if Williams felt the same way.
After all, Molyneux tells us that Williams went to a “private oldboy’s high school,” which is the setting of the film Dead Poets Society. The “energy hike” and how the “few kids would start pounding out a beat” that Molyneux mentions of Williams’ new school are all elements that we also see in the film. Finally, Molyneux tells us that Robin Williams was a small overweight boy, and we can see the pain that this caused him in a scene in One Hour Photo where he was talking to the child. “I was kind of a chubby kid,” he said. “Let’s face it, I was fat.” Coincidentally, his character’s name was Seymour ‘Sy’ Parrish in this film, who shares the same surname as his character Alan Parrish in Jumanji and the first name of his character Alan Hakman in The Final Cut.
We see that Robin Williams suffered from loneliness starting at a very young age, and that he took on roles depicting damaged and lonely men who are good at heart but incapable of functioning in a normal mainstream society. While I cannot presume to know why he took his own life, his death reminds me that loneliness is a very real affliction that can lead to tragic results. Unfortunately, it cannot be pathologized. There is no inoculation, no cure for loneliness, at least not one that can be prescribed by anyone. The problem is the kind to which the solution must be discovered by oneself.
My deepest condolences to Robin Williams, who to me was a fine actor who conveyed the terrifying temerity of a man’s will to exist.