Since Robin Williams’ death Monday, many are recalling his most memorable roles in Oscar-nominated films “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society,” along with Disney’s “Aladdin.”
While plenty of Robin’s most well-known comedy bits, movie scenes, and inspirational speeches have been making the rounds, there are many wonderful performances of his that seem to have fallen by the wayside.
Williams was an incredibly versatile actor whose on-screen presence always elevated the material no matter how small or large the role.
Here are five examples of Robin’s lesser-known films in which his performance stood out.
5. “Deconstructing Harry” (1997)
Robin may have only been on-screen for a couple of minutes, but his cameo in Woody Allen’s “Deconstructing Harry” as a man who is permanently “out-of-focus” is so delightfully silly that it may be the most memorable scene in the entire film.
4. “One Hour Photo” (2002)
Mark Romanek’s unsettling debut feature stars Robin Williams in what has to be the darkest, creepiest, and least comedic role of his career. Robin plays a pharmacy photo lab clerk who becomes obsessed with a family whose photos he’s been developing for years, and his performance totally anchors what is essentially a one-man-show. “One Hour Photo” is a bleak character study of a very disturbed individual, and while that fact may now hit too close to home, it doesn’t take away from his extraordinary performance.
3. “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” (1992)
Everyone seems to remember William as the genie in Disney’s “Aladdin,” but Robin also voiced a role in the cult favourite animated film “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.” Much like “Aladdin,” Williams acts as the film’s comic relief, this time playing a witty, rapping fruitbat named Batty. The environmentally concious, kid-friendly film has since become a cult classic and many claim it inspired James Cameron’s “Avatar,” though Cameron himself would disagree.
2. “Death to Smoochy” (2002)
This 2002 box-office bomb gets a bad wrap — it’s actually a gleefully twisted satire that just may have been a little too over-the-top for its own good. The film (directed by Danny DeVito) cost a reported $US50 million to produce and barely managed to gross $8 million during its entire theatrical run. Williams plays a publicly disgraced children’s TV show host named Rainbow Randolph who gets replaced by a Barney-esque character named Smoochy (played by Edward Norton). As the title indicates, Rainbow Randolph doesn’t take this career change lightly. The film may be crass and mean-spirited, but there’s so many talented and funny people involved that it manages to remain engaging and fun.
1. “World’s Greatest Dad” (2009)
Robin Williams’ performance in Bobcat Goldthwait’s “World’s Greatest Dad” is easily one of the best performances of his career. The underseen film suffered from a very limited release (during its widest theatrical release it was playing on just 30 screens) but has since found a second-life thanks to home video and streaming services.
This film in particular will be quite difficult to revisit now, as suicide is a major theme, but the overall message will only be more relevant and profound. Williams plays the father of a child who can only be described as “the absolute worst.” After the boy accidentally kills himself, his father stages the scene as if it were a suicide and pens a fake suicide note that winds up making him universally loved posthumously. I won’t spoil anything, but the rest of the film depicts how Williams handles his son’s newfound status and deals with the fallout.
Goldthwait strikes the perfect balance between “dark” and “heartfelt” here, and Williams performance is absolutely outstanding. While a dark comedy may not seem like the best recommendation, the film has its heart in the right place and will only be more affecting and powerful given the recent news of Williams’ passing.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.