Robin Williams Death: Shocking, Yes ... Surprising? Not if You Were Looking Closely
The more we hear about Robin Williams' death, the sadder it becomes. We've all collectively visited shock, disbelief, denial, heartbreak, pity, anger, and confusion throughout the last 24 hours, and there's likely more to come. It is, after all, impossible to not to feel such a plethora of emotions for someone who was so well-loved, even if we weren't as well-versed in seeing the greater picture.
As recent as 2010, Williams' interviewing tactics were as manic as his humor -- a piece in the UK Guardian claims that even then, Robin's behavior seemed off:
"What Williams really wants to talk about, it turns out, is his relapse into alcoholism, his rehab and his open-heart surgery."
There began an interview that spoke volumes, and yet, in the year of idiotic Lindsay Lohan's jail time and Kristen Stewart's affair, no one seemed to notice.
About films that glorify the grieving process (Robin had just wrapped "World's Greatest Dad") Robin said, "You just try and keep it in perspective; you have to remember the best and the worst. ... In America they really do mythologize people when they die." He then referenced former President Ronald Reagan, saying, "Maybe he was kind of lovable, but you realized half way through his administration he really didn't know where he was."
The interviewer continued along with his questions, but made important note of Robin's demeanor:
"My worry beforehand had been that Williams would be too wildly manic to make much sense. When he appeared on the Jonathan Ross show earlier this summer, he'd been vintage Williams – hyperactive to the point of deranged, ricocheting between voices, riffing off his internal dialogues. Off-camera, however, he is a different kettle of fish. His bearing is intensely Zen and almost mournful, and when he's not putting on voices he speaks in a low, tremulous baritone – as if on the verge of tears – that would work very well if he were delivering a funeral eulogy. He seems gentle and kind – even tender – but the overwhelming impression is one of sadness. ... Quite often when he opens his mouth a slur of unrelated words come out, like a dozen different false starts tangled together, from which an actual sentence eventually finds its way out. For example, 'So/Now/And then/Well/It/I – Sometimes I used to work just to work.'. It's like trying to tune into a long-wave radio station."
Robin went on to talk about the isolation he felt after his 2003 alcohol relapse -- a relapse that broke his 20-year sobriety -- saying, "I was in a small town where it's not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought: drinking. I just thought, hey, maybe drinking will help. Because I felt alone and afraid. It was that thing of working so much, and going f--k, maybe that will help. And it was the worst thing in the world. ... You feel warm and kind of wonderful. And then the next thing you know, it's a problem, and you're isolated."
Up until 2010, Williams claimed that he was attending weekly AA meetings because he "had to," and that it was "good to go," but something still seemed off. When asked about his fear of mortality, Robin sounded like he explicitly did not want to die, saying that the indication of mortality was a "blessing."
In conclusion, the interviewer asked Robin if, in 2010, he was happier than he'd been in previous years, and Robin quietly answered, "I think so. And not afraid to be unhappy. That's OK too. And then you can be like, all is good. And that is the thing, that is the gift."
You know what? Robin had a lot of issues, clearly, but maybe we were too busy paying attention to the next funny thing to come out of his mouth to ever seriously consider that something like this could happen. Maybe we were too busy taking what we wanted from a man who had so much to give, only to realize that supplies were quickly being depleted. Maybe there were red flags all over the place, and people just got too complacent with on-demand entertainment and the disposability of today's novelties to really notice -- and isn't that one of the saddest things of all?