- Robin Williams, despite his struggle with addiction, depression, and anxiety, was known for using humor as a shield to make his colleagues laugh on set.
- According to his co-stars, he was both professional and highly entertaining, often turning into a stand-up comedian to energize the people around him.
- Williams was described as a great leader who extended his love and attention to his co-stars.
Robin Williams was a struggling human being throughout his life, despite bringing laughter to his audience. His cocaine addiction in the 1970s and ‘80s, along with his recurring alcoholism, took a toll on his mind and body. The Jumanji actor also battled depression and anxiety. In 2014, Williams tragically ended his own life, shocking many of his fans and co-stars. Williams hid his personal troubles from colleagues, using humor as a shield and making them laugh on set.
Several actors have shared their pleasant experiences working with Robin Williams on set. According to them, the Flubber actor never missed a chance to turn into a stand-up comedian for his co-stars. They also added that he remained highly professional when the camera was rolling.
Robin Williams Made His Co-Stars Happy Despite His State of Mind
Robin Williams’ co-star from Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon, shared during an appearance on First We Feast that the Insomnia actor was one of the greatest comedians in the world. According to Damon, Williams got a kick out of entertaining people and would put on an impromptu stand-up act to energize his co-stars. The Jason Bourne actor further added that despite his star status, the Man of the Year actor extended his love and attention to his co-stars. Damon shared with First We Feast:
“Robin made everybody laugh. I mean, uncontrollably. And when he would see people’s energy flagging, he would just launch into, like, ten minutes of stand-up. He was the biggest comedian in the world and actor in the world. And that level of, like, I don’t know, leadership, kind of like and attention and love coming from him was just like everybody was ready to work for another 12 hours.”
Ethan Hawke worked with The Final Cut actor in the critically acclaimed film Dead Poets Society. Williams played a teacher who inspired his students and Hawke played one of his students. The Before Sunrise actor described Williams as “very relaxed and very inventive” during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show. Hawke shared:
“Incredibly funny… And he was very relaxed and very inventive, and he would just improve constantly all day long. And the more the crew laughed, the more encouraged he was.”
However, Williams did not let the joking around on set affect his acting. According to Robert De Niro, The Survivors actor was very serious and concentrated about his roles. De Niro, who worked with him on Awakenings, shared:
“I mean, he likes to concentrate too. He’s very serious about what he does, but at the same time, he’ll joke around between takes. Because in movies, there’s a lot of waiting. And he’s amazing, really funny.”
His Jumanji co-star David Alan Grier mentioned that he worked 12-15 hours a day and was never in a bad mood. Hugh Grant, who acted alongside Williams in Nine Months, found it challenging to deliver his lines with the Jack actor around.
Another Actor Had More Insights Into Robin Williams’ Troubles
Actor Matthew Lawrence acted alongside Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire as a child actor. Sharing a different perspective, Lawrence revealed that, as a child, he often invaded Williams’ personal space by peeking into his trailer. While admitting that the Law & Order: SVU actor was highly energetic on set, Lawrence shared that the actor would be sitting in his trailer with his hands on his head, visibly depressed.
Williams opened up about some of his personal struggles to the young Lawrence. He firmly believed that the drugs he had taken during his earlier years had messed up his brain. Lawrence recalled their conversation on the Brotherly Love Podcast:
“And then I’d open the door, and this is what I’d get. [imitiates sitting sadly with hands on the head] It was so painful for him. Just to sit there and have quiet. So he explained to me what was going on, ‘I don’t care what doctors say. I know what it did to my brain, Matt. There were 5 years there where I lived on cocaine. After those 5 years of cocaine, even though I got off and I got clean, it chemically changed my brain and now I have to deal with this sh*t.’”
Williams put an end to his cocaine addiction after his friend and SNL star John Belushi overdosed the day after they partied together. Williams went through a phase of depression after Belushi’s death, after which he never touched cocaine again.
Robin Williams will always be remembered for his contributions to comedy and Hollywood. He’s a recipient of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting.