The world knew and loved Robin Williams primarily as a man whose talent to incite laughter was relatively unparalleled. In short, he was hilarious. While we loved him in the dramatic roles that were a marked departure from classically funny fare like Mrs. Doubtfire, it sometimes slips our minds how fantastic he was in those darker roles. In this clip from his final film, Boulevard, we see a man who is broken. We see a man who is breaking someone else. We see a brilliantly faceted actor.
It's almost impossible to watch this sliver of the film and not draw comparisons to Williams' personal life. In Boulevard, Williams stars as a suburban husband and father struggling to come to terms with his sexual orientation. His character is hiding part of himself, and it became evident with the end of Williams' life that — although he had openly discussed his depression — he was hiding part of himself from the world as well. It's a heartbreaking parallel.
Knowing Williams' history with depression and the undercurrent of sadness that he lived with, it's not hard to imagine that tackling a role that required him to dredge up so much visceral emotion would have been a painful process. In the trailer, he looks defeated — not his character, but Williams himself. Is this simply a projection? Or did the role require more than Williams had to give?
The film looks phenomenal. It looks like the kind of movie that will eat you up and spit you out, in the best kind of way. That's typically only true of movies in which the actors left everything on the stage, so to speak. It's clear Williams did just that and, considering the emotional toll it may have taken on him, he did it for a role that could very well open doors for a lot of people to have the hard-yet-necessary conversations with loved ones that preface the healing process.
The truth is, seeing Williams in this capacity again — onscreen, entertaining others and in a role that speaks to the masks people wear — reminds us all that we never know what someone else has going on under the surface. Although many of us never got to know Williams on a personal level, there is likely someone like him in all our lives. Someone who constantly treads water to keep afloat, someone who puts on a happy face but suffers immensely on the inside. Could we be kinder? Could we be less judgmental?
And it makes you realize there will be no more. This was, indeed, Williams' last role. With a 59-second clip, he makes the world fall in love with him all over again. And, for that suspended minute in time, we can't wait to see what he does next.
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