Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind

Actor/comedian Robin Williams standing on couch extending his hands at the camera like a crab. Courtesy of HBO.

It was a sad day when we lost legendary comedian Robin Williams but a new HBO documentary, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, tells his story in his own words.

Williams got his start during the 1970s comedy scene in Los Angeles.  This led to various television appearances in the 1970s.  None of those appearances were more notable than the time that he made his first appearance as Mork on Happy Days.  The two-episode appearance paved the way for Mork & Mindy.  A prolific film career would soon follow by the end of the 1980s.

The introductory clip on Inside the Actors Studio in 2001 sets the tone for Marina Zenovich’s documentary.  The clip was followed by a montage of clips during the credits.  It is a stark reminder of just how much Williams is missed.  Between the stand-up, television, and movie clips shown, a lot was lost when Williams ended his life on August 11, 2014.

Many of Williams’ friends and colleagues open up about him in interviews.  Monty Python’s Eric Idle has a song, “Good Night Robin,” that plays during the end credits.  While there are contemporary interviews, the narration largely comes by way of Williams’ interview on WTF with Marc Maron.

For what it’s worth, the documentary goes hand in hand with the recent biography, Robin, by Dave Itzkoff.  There’s a lot of fascinating material during the interviews.  For example, Robin Williams was offered $15,000 a week to do Mork & Mindy.  The salary would grow as the sitcom grew to be a success but he would have been happy with $1,500!

As Williams found success in his career, his relationship to his then-wife Valerie Velardi eventually fell apart.  Williams would go onto marry Marsha Garces, and later, Susan Schneider.

Good Morning, Vietnam led to Williams getting an Oscar nomination.  The 1987 film also launched his career into the next phase.  Dead Poets Society followed two years later.  Other movies would follow including lending his voice to Aladdin for the minimum amount allowed at the time by guild contracts.  Williams’ only Oscar win would come for a supporting role in Good Will Hunting.  Williams won Golden Globe Awards for his roles in Good Morning, Vietnam; The Fisher King; and Mrs. Doubtfire.  He took home three Grammy Awards for best comedy albums.

Movies, television, and comedy specials weren’t all there was.  As Williams was just starting to launch his film career, he teamed up with Steve Martin in the Mike Nicholas-directed Waiting for Godot in 1988.  During a Q&A, they were asked if it was “comedy or legitimate theater.”  If people think Hamilton tickets might be hard to come by, can you imagine what a thrill it would be to see these two take the stage together?  How did Williams not complete the EGOT?!?

For his performance in One Hour Photo, Williams received critical acclaim for the performance.  He would face off against the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson during awards season.  When Day-Lewis and Nicholson tied during one 8th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards in 2003, Williams stole the show!

It’s moments like these in which we can appreciate the comedian’s spontaneity.  It’s only a unique talent like Williams who is able to pull this sort of thing off.

Robin Williams was a once-in-a-lifetime talent.  Nearly four years after his tragic passing, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind just makes us miss him even more.

DIRECTOR:  Marina Zenovich
FEATURING:  Robin Williams (archival), Billy Crystal, Eric Idle, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Lewis Black, Steve Martin, Pam Dawber, Valerie Velardi, Zak Williams

Following it’s world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind will air on HBO on July 16, 2018 at 8 PM ET/PT.  The documentary will also be available through HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, and HBO GO.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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