Robin Williams Death: Shocking, Yes ... Surprising? Not if You Were Looking Closely

8/12/2014 7:30 AM PDT, by Sarah Taylor
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?

Filed Under:  Photos , RIP

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651 days ago

I never went for his style of humor but appreciated him when he did ANYTHING BUT comedy. I'll miss THAT...but not the so-called humor.

651 days ago

Maybe if we didn't spend so much time on people like Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian who contribute nothing good to society, maybe then someone would have noticed. Question is will we learn now?

651 days ago

Well written Sarah!

651 days ago

I worry that precious Jim Carrey is headed down this same path. I pray that he surrounds himself with love, tenderness, and support and the uncanny love of The Lord.

2 Replies
651 days ago

Beautiful Sarah. I will miss him. Just learned today how much of a support he was to Christopher Reeve.

He is now at peace. Surely.

651 days ago

Very well said. I think the world, his fans are sorting through what happened. He touched us all. Oh, what pain he must of been in, I hope he is free from that. Thank you for your insights, it helps me and I'm sure others to process this tragedy and to mourn his passing. You will be missed Mr. Robin Williams.

651 days ago

We always wonder what we could have done after the fact. No one seems to be brave enough to try and help him when he needed help, even him. The best comedy is born from the darkest places, I guess that is why we do not see this type of thing happen to comedians. We laugh at them and ignore their dark side.

Denise S
651 days ago

It really is sad what the media focuses on- the Kardashian's are pathetic and offer no intelligence at all.. no talent and nothing to respect.

Robin you were amazing talent and millions have so much respect for you. RIP xo

651 days ago

People noticed, he checked into rehab and those close to him pondered if it was too late- They talk about his bad depression. People close to him knew, its not the publics job to figure this out.

651 days ago

Sarah few of us have the media platform that you do. Consider this tragedy next time you seek to disparage celebrities in their constructed existence. Don't feign sympathy and compassion today just to go back to frivilous articles breaking down a person for the sake of a headline. You seemingly now know better...let's continue to see better.
You either uplift or tear down....choose wisely.

651 days ago

"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead." This quote was penned by Charles Bukowski & usually rings true. There are certain people who shine brighter than most, & the fact remains, while awful and frustrating, there is usually nothing anyone could have done to prevent the outcome. Rest well Robin, I will pray for your family.

651 days ago

I always noticed his sadness. It was in his eyes every time.

651 days ago

I was stationed in Turkey in 2001. Robin stopped there for it was part of his USO tour. I was walking back to my room at the hodja inn on base when a Air Force blue bus pulled up in front of me as I approached the outside stairs. After a bunch of officer left the bus out of the ranks appeared Robin Williams. I was by myself and he walked briskly over to me said hello and gave me a hug. He and I spoke for 20 minutes, although it seemed like an eternity. He asked me if I was married, children, how many. He commented on the long flight from LA enroute to Turkey. I told Robin I had three children, two boys and a little girl. Robin told me how precious children are and I will never forget he had a book in his hand with a blue pen. The name of his book was "Chicken Soup for the Father's Soul". A book in which his son gave to him when he left California. He then told me how much he loved his son. He was his world. I then noticed his arms, how hairy they looked. I said jokingly to Robin "Your arms are just as hairy as mine Robin." He paused, smiled and then said to me "Welcome to monkey world."
In 2004 I was in Iraq, Robin Williams showed up at Camp Victory by the PX. He was accompanied by John Elway, Leeann Tweeden, and Blake Clark. They had a line of 10 people at a time who were allowed up on stage to meet Robin. When I approached him I said to him "you came back like you promised!" I then told Robin We had met in 2001 in Turkey and he gave me his book, which he signed personally. He paused, then out of the blue he looked at me and said "Yes, Chicken Soup for the Fathers Soul!!" I have the book, cherished, the blue pen and the and plastic bag he had his publicist put it in.
Robin was not just a comedian, an actor, but he was a loving caring father and human being.
I will never forget you Robin. Your caring humor you gave me was heartfelt and loving from your heart.
As you wrote in my book, I say to you Robin now that you have found Peace to Live on, Read on and god bless you.

1 Reply
Jiminy Cricket
651 days ago

How is any of this obscure at all? He spent an hour discussing with Maron Maron on the WTF Podcast which is one of the most popular podcasts of all of iTunes about his physical and mental troubles.

651 days ago

What people don't seem to realize is that noticing the "red flags" and acting on them isn't going to stop a tragedy like this from happening. People who are determined to end their lives will see it through. My aunt attempted suicide numerous times and had help before and after each attempt, even a stint in rehab. She completed suicide just weeks after leaving rehab. Blaming others for a suicide is ignorant. There is no one to blame, not even the person who died. Mental illness is a disease that sometimes cannot be cured.

651 days ago

Whenever I hear of a case like this with depression, I think that I would have liked to have been able to talk to him. I hadn't heard of any of his interview material. I know, dealing with depression myself (very well treated, thank you) that there's really only so much that other people can do or say. Out of compassion and care, I would like to reach out to people, but I know that you can't necessarily expect to save them and even such expectations can be frustrating to the person suffering from this awful disease. You can know that people care, but that it doesn't do anything to reduce the pain...there are biological factors and life/situational factors that are sometimes insurmountable.

Manhattan Dating Project
651 days ago

I wish I had not read this article and neither the one by Decca Aitkenhead/Guardian. Yesterday we watched "One hour photo", which makes you think, Bryan Cranston modeled "Walter White" after Robin William's role in the film. What a great ouevre Robin leaves behind. Thanks for all the laughs & tears. R.I.P.

651 days ago

I noticed. He seemed different during interviews and I would worry about him watching them. I agree with anonymous. You could see the sadness in his eyes.

Paul Pasquale
650 days ago

Spotting the "red flags" of the drive toward suicide have probably saved many people. Others, even those "on their meds" and receiving treatment see every moment of the day as being at the bottom of a deep well and, from what I understand, can't wait for a moment of solitude to complete the act. Hemingway supposedly tried to walk into an airplane propeller on his way home from treatment. Family Feud host, sad, sad case, died in a treatment center. On and on. Physical issues (coronary disease, COPD, etc.) often intensify the sadness. I'm no doctor, but intervention just cannot continually save a loved one. Sorry for the terrible message ... I believe it's truthful ... And maybe some comfort for those who've lost a loved one to suicide.

650 days ago

Has anyone else noticed just how many of his films involved suicide? Dead Poet's Society, The Angriest Man In Brooklyn, What Dreams May Come?...In fact he died in an eerily similar manner to his "son" in World's Greatest Dad!.....Makes you think he thought about this for quite some time. Rest in peace, were one of a kind!

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