Robin Williams is a man who lives in everyone’s memory as someone who could make us laugh. He has warmed the hearts of many with his uplifting family films, but is there more to the actor than meets the eye? Here are some surprising and beautiful facts about Robin Williams that most people do not know.
Robin Williams did not want to market anything for the Disney production, Aladdin.
Most people would be surprised to hear this, but Robin Willims only wanted to do the voice of the Genie character in Aladin. He wanted to do something his kids would be proud of. His deal was that he did not want to his name to be used in any of the advertising for the Movie. Of course, Disney went ahead anyway… so, to make it up to him, they gave him a $1million dollar painting by Pablo Picasso.
“We had a deal… The one thing I said was I will do the voice. I’m doing it basically because I want to be part of this animation tradition. I want something for my children. One deal is, I just don’t want to sell anything — as in Burger King, as in toys, as in stuff.” said Williams
Being the voice for Genie in Aladin inspired other celebrities to voice for animations
Aladdin was such a huge success, that many people would acclaim is thanks to the impressive voice acting of Robin Williams. He added a familiar iconic voice to the movie, and it inspired a lot more celebrities to start voicing other characters in different animations.
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Williams wanted to play Hagrid in Harry Potter
Did you know that Robin Williams wanted to play the role of Hagrid in Harry Potter? Unfortunately, they turned him down because he was American.
Oprah wanted to “out” Nathan Lane, but Williams intervened
Nathan Lane was comfortable enough to “come out” to his parents in his youth, and he was fine with the rest of the New York Theatre scene knowing his sexual orientation. But, he did not want the world to know just yet. In 1996, Lane and Williams were invited to the Oprah show. Lane did not want to discuss his orientation with Oprah, but she was determined to discuss it anyway. Lane recalls how Robin tried to deter her from the subject:
“She says to me something like, ‘Oh, you’re so good at that girly stuff.’ Or whatever it was. And Robin obviously sensed she might be going toward the sexuality question and he immediately swoops in and diverts the interview away from that to protect me.”
Billy Crystal and Robin Williams had the longest chats!
Billy Crystal and Robin Williams shared a strong friendship whilst the late actor was alive. They would talk for hours on end over the phone, but they would never call each other by their names.
Billy recalls: “Late at night I get these calls and we’d go for hours. And we never spoke as ourselves. When it was announced I was coming to Broadway, I had 50 phone messages, in one day, from somebody named Gary, who wanted to be my backstage dresser.”
Robin Williams wrote a letter to get Lisa Jakub back in school
Robin’s on-screen daughter for the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire, is Lisa Jakub. When she was busy filming her teachers struggled to cope with her schedule, and they ended up kicking her out of school. Robin Williams wrote a letter to the head of the school in the hope they would take her back.
Williams wrote: “A student of her caliber and talent should be encouraged to go out in the world and learn through her work. She should also be encouraged to return to the classroom when she’s done to share those experiences and motivate her classmates to soar to their own higher achievements … She is an asset to any classroom.”
He named his daughter, Zelda, after a video game character
Robin Williams and Marsha Garces’s daughter, Zelda Rae Williams, was born in 1989. There are many ideas as to the inspiration for her name, but Roin Williams insists they got the name from the character, Zelda, in the Legend of Zelda series of video games.
Williams said: “A lot of people come up and say, ‘Is she named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife?’ “No, it’s Zelda from the Legend of Zelda.”
William’s debuted his comedy in church
This is definitely one that many will find surprising. When he left Juilliard university, he was struggling to find work as an actor, and this led him back to his hometown. He found an opportunity to perform some comedy at a church, and he lapped up the chance.
“So I went to this workshop in the basement of a Lutheran church, and it was a stand-up comedy, so you don’t get to improvise with others, but I started off doing, ostensibly, it was just like improvising but solo. And then I started to realize, ‘Oh.’ [I started] building an act from there.” said Williams.
Williams Pranked Christopher Reeve in hospital
After a tragic horse-riding accident, Christopher Reeve was rendered paralyzed. While he was in the hospital, Robin Williams was one of the first people to visit him – they had been friends since they attended Julliard together. Williams came in before Reeve’s big surgery and pranked him by pretending to be his proctologist, with a Russian accent and all.
Reeve recalls the memory fondly: “He came here one afternoon and just — thank God I wear a seatbelt in this chair because I would have fallen out laughing.”
Robin Williams and Koko the gorilla were friends
Robin paid a visit to the Gorilla Foundation in Northern California where Koko the Gorilla lived. After that one of the people who care for Koko showed her Robin Williams acting in one of his movies, and Koko seemed to be able to recognize him. “We shared something extraordinary: laughter,” said Williams.
When Williams passed away, the caregivers let Koko know of the bad news, and she became depressed according to the foundation.
Robin comforted Steven Spielberg during the filming of Schindler’s list
If you have watched Schindler’s ist, you will be aware of the heart-wrenching scenes that Steven Spielberg had to direct. He found it difficult to get through the movie’s production. But thankfully, Robin called him once a week to help him process what he was going through emotionally.
Spielberg remembers fondly: “Robin knew what I was going through, and once a week, Robin would call me on schedule and he would do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone. I would laugh hysterically because I had to release so much.”
He took his own life because he had dementia, not because he was depressed
Many people are aware that Robin Williams suffered from depression because he was pretty open and honest about his struggles. There are many who did not know that Williams had been diagnosed with Lewy dementia, where the symptoms include: “fluctuations in mental status, hallucinations, and impairment of motor function.”
People who were close to him started seeing his mental capacity deteriorate. “I definitely witnessed his dementia. You know, him processing things completely differently… He was frustrated trying to memorize dialogue and things like that. This was something that was attacking his brain…” Bobcat Goldthwait recalled.