Robin Williams

Robin Williams once named the favourite “creepy movie” of his career

Think of your favourite Robin Williams role or movie. Perhaps it’s the heartfelt embodiment of the boy who never grew up in Hook or the dedicated father-turned-English nanny in Mrs Doubtfire. The actor had many family-orientated and comedic roles that defined childhoods across the globe in their compelling and touching nature. However, in one on-screen appearance, Williams adopted a brand new style, as the actor played a disturbed and isolated man in the unnerving psychological thriller One Hour Photo.

Released in 2002 and directed by Mark Romanek, One Hour Photo unsettles and upsets audiences in its harrowing story of a photo developer called Sy, played by Williams. The unnerving assistant appears helpful at the first turn; however, he suffers from loneliness to the point he becomes obsessed with a family he has been developing photographs for.

Comedy actor Williams once cited One Hour Photo as one of his favourite roles, stating: “(It’s) probably my favourite creepy movie I’ve ever done. It disconcerted people in a very good way. It’s about the idea of someone living vicariously through someone else’s life, before all of the stuff with social media on the Internet,” he added. “It is very, very minimalist, but I’m really proud of it”.

Seeing a charming and energetic Hollywood star loved and treasured globally for his brilliant and touching performances embody an unsettling man in emotional pain is an uncomfortable change. Due to his loneliness and desire for a better life, Williams’ Sy resorts to stalking, breaking into a person’s home, and physical violence, which is an even more upsetting watch.

It makes sense to learn that the director originally envisioned screen icon Jack Nicholson for the role of Sy. However, Nicholson turned it down, believing the part was too similar to his work as Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s emotionally distressing horror The Shining.

During an interview with, as reposted by the Robin Williams Fansite, the star was asked about the film’s creepy tone and how it diverts from his traditional performances and their effects. “Yes. As it’s meant to be. But it was so wonderful that the film’s writer and director (Mark Romanek) portrays the character as—not some creepy bad guy that you automatically hate,” Williams replies. “But it’s the brilliant things that he says that make him lovable in some ways.”

Williams also addresses One Hour Photo‘s exploration of individual life and the influence of people overlooked by a collective society. It was this notion that really appealed to Williams: That’s what I like. The things he says are painfully true—like, my favourite line is… ‘photographs are your own personal stand against time. That someone cared enough about me to take my picture means that I existed.’”

The actor adds: “I was at an old flea market the other day and looked at this box of old photographs, and you realise that most of these people are dead. There’s a moment in time that you really get to see someone.”

Williams also ties the film’s narrative into a contextual landscape concerning celebrity worship and fan obsession, drawing from his own personal experiences. “Yeah, you could use that as a metaphor. Have I had letters in the past from people who say, ‘we should be together’ with photos? Sure,” he shares. “People can read a lot about me, and some do fantasise about celebrities outside of their lives.”

One Hour Photo (trailer)

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