Robin Williams

Robin Williams: His 5 Best Funny Roles (& His 5 Best Serious Roles)

This year would've been Robin Williams' 70th birthday, a talent at making us laugh and cry in equal measure gone far too soon.

He made the world laugh, then he made the world cry, and then he went right back and did it all again. Few actors have ever shown such range with their cinematic outings as the legendary Robin Williams. The comedian rose to fame in the late ’70s with show-stealing performances as Mork in Happy Days and Mork & Mindy. And by the end of the ’80s, Williams had conquered Hollywood.

The 1990s saw Robin Williams dominate, his roles in family comedies as well as dramatic films made him one of the most sought-after and versatile actors on the planet. Williams proved to critics and audiences time after time that he could not only do both but that he could excel greatly at both, too.

10 Funny: Death To Smoochy Features Some Alarmingly Adult Laughs From Robin Williams

Easily one of Robin Williams’ more underrated comedies, Death To Smoochy flew under the radar upon its release and ended up with the dreaded label of box office bomb. Critics weren’t especially kind either— Williams even received a Razzie nomination for his performance.

Death To Smoochy is now considered a cult classic, and another look at Robin Williams in the film reveals an outrageously funny performance. The unrelenting satire, the adult humor, Death To Smoochy is Williams doing what he does best: Making people laugh.

Serious: Robin Williams Healed Hearts & Minds With His Performance In Awakenings

At first sight, the image of Robin Williams in doctor attire may seem strange without the comedic red nose, but as great as Williams was in Patch Adams, 1990’s Awakenings features his most brilliant bedside manner. By 1990, Williams had already proven himself as a serious actor, and Awakenings only added to the respect the actor commanded when it came to drama.

Robin Williams and Robert De Niro crafted a fascinating and touching tale as the leads, and both actors won awards for their performances.

Funny: Robin Williams Becomes A Gay Icon In The Birdcage

In the 1990s, LGBTQ+ characters were sadly still a rarity in Hollywood productions, and those that found themselves on the big screen were often thin stereotypes or offensive depictions— yet this was not the case with 1996’s The Birdcage.

Robin Williams and Nathan Lane star as an openly gay couple attempting to hide their relationship from a right-wing family. The film is side-splittingly funny, with Williams’ performance being a highlight, and it delivers an important message about how unnecessary hiding differences should be. GLAAD even praised the film for its handling of the sometimes difficult subject.

Serious: Seymour Parrish Is Williams At His Creepiest

Robin Williams shocked audiences in 2002 with his turn in One Hour Photo. The actor took on a role that put him directly at odds with that which his films had so often been targeted toward: A family. Williams played Seymour Parrish, a photo-technician with an unhealthy obsession for a family whose photographs he had been trusted to develop.

Williams received huge praise for the film, his startlingly creepy portrayal is made all the more chilling considering the lighthearted comedy he was mostly known for at the time.

Funny: The Genie Stole Disney’s Show & The Hearts Of Fans

Robin Williams is a show-stealer, but none of his characters have made off with as much adoration as The Genie managed to snatch from his on-screen companions in Disney’s Aladdin.

Genie is the absolute highlight of the film, and the loveable blue jinn is the perfect showcase for Williams’ improv skills, wild humor, uproarious impressions, and even the actor’s surprising singing ability. The Genie is widely considered Robin Williams’ most memorable role, his legacy matched by only a select few in the Disney universe.

Serious: The Fisher King Features The Strange & Wonderful From Williams

Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King is another underrated movie from the Robin Williams archives. The film toes the line between bizarre and brilliant in typical Terry Gilliam fashion, and Robin Williams brings the sorrow (and the laughs) alongside Jeff Bridges.

Williams forces the viewer to feel his character’s internal struggles, and few of his roles are quite as powerful as his Academy Award-nominated turn in The Fisher King.

Funny: Mrs. Doubtfire Is An Icon Of The Silver Screen

On the surface, Robin Williams in drag sounds like a tasteless, low-brow comedy, but Mrs. Doubtfire has just as much heart as it has laughs. Chris Columbus’ film is a regular on many funniest movies of all-time lists.

Euphegenia Doubtfire is one of Robin Williams’ most famous roles, and for good reason— it’s yet another award winner for the actor, and the film is jam-packed with hilarious moments, many of which were improvised by Williams.

Serious: All Good Will Hunting Needed Was Dr. Maguire’s Love & Care

The movie that finally saw Robin Williams win his Academy Award, 1997’s Good Will Hunting is a heartwarming drama centered around Matt Damon’s Will Hunting, an exceptionally gifted janitor who receives therapy under Robin Williams’ Dr. Sean Maguire.

Robin Williams effortlessly steals every scene he’s in, which is made even more impressive when considering Matt Damon’s well-documented talents. Williams made the audience care deeply for the film’s characters and had them laughing, and crying along with the actors on screen.

Funny: The Radio Has Never Been Better Than When Robin Williams Was On The Mic In Good Morning Vietnam

The film’s title, and line, stand up with some of the most iconic in all of cinema. And though Williams’ exceptional performance could certainly appear on either side of the list due to the film’s serious nature, Good Morning Vietnam features Robin Williams at his most hilarious.

The majority of the radio broadcasts seen in the film were improvised by Williams, showcasing his incredible talent when it comes to spontaneous comedy. Williams picked up one of his many Oscar nominations for his performance.

Serious: Dead Poet’s Society Is The Highlight Of A Truly Incredible Career

In terms of uplifting, thought-provoking drama, Dead Poet’s Society is Robin Williams’ finest hour. Williams earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his troubles, and the film itself is one of the most acclaimed of his entire career.

Watching the “Oh Captain! My Captain!” scene can prove incredibly difficult without some tissues to dry the eyes, and even more so since the legendary actor’s death in 2014. Dead Poet’s Society perfectly captures what made Robin Williams great, and leaves no questions unanswered when it comes to how he warmed the hearts of so many fans around the world.

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