The world has suffered a great loss from the death of Robin Williams, often considered one of the funniest men to have ever lived. But Robin’s reputation has a comedian, goofball and veteran improviser does not completely entail his career. Robin Williams actually played a handful of dark and disturbing roles, which provides the world with a small glimpse into a side of his brain that many forgot was there.
Here, in chronological order, are the darker roles Robin Williams played during his too-short career as a serious actor.
One Hour Photo (2002):
In this dramatic thriller, Robin Williams portrays Seymour Parrish, an employee at a one hour photo lab. While continuing to develop the snapshots of a perfect suburban family, Robin’s character becomes slowly obsessed with their life. While the plot might make you cringe and decide not to rent it for the sake of Robin’s fond memory, the film ends with a surprising twist that might make the film worth the time of hardcore Robin Williams fans.
This film was released in the peak of Robin William’s dark phase in acting, right after the controversial black comedy film Death to Smoochy. Insomnia is another psychological thriller directed by Inception’s Christopher Nolan. It stars Al Pacino investigating the murder of a young teen in an Alaskan town and soon suffering from the titular malady of insomnia. Robin Williams, another sufferer, plays a famous crime writer who gets involved in the sinister crimes of the town.
The Final Cut (2004):
Another great choice for those who want to remember Robin Williams in a positive light. The Final Cut was a thriller that went relatively under the radar. The film tells the story of a near future world where people have implants that record their entire lives so that editors can cut together a tribute film about their life at their funeral. Robin Williams plays one of these editors who, with somber placidity, uncovers the grim and chilling truths about people’s lives and the implications of a world that monitors your every move. The story may be dark and Robin’s character might be internally tortured, but at least he plays the good guy.
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (2008):
In a special episode of Law and Order, Robin Williams played the deeply troubled mastermind Merritt Rook. According to the official Law and Order wiki page, Rook is an audio engineer who turns into a vicious anti-authoritarian vigilante after the death of his wife and unborn child. Robin Williams claimed to be interested in portraying the Riddler in a Batman film; and this role was as close as he got. Rook is a crooked genius who uses illusions and misdirection to deceive his victims and carry out complex villainous plans.
Robin Williams will no doubt be remembered for his sense of humor, but some of his best work as an actor was behind a veil of darkness. Remember Robin for his kindness, his quick wit and his incredible talent.
For more on Robin Williams, check out the impact his generosity had on the world.