9:10 AM - Fri 8.22.14
Robin Williams killed himself.
How long has it been now? Almost two weeks? "Old news" at this point, but I'm still thinking about it.
When I saw the news, after waking from a nap (And I first got the news from Facebook, where I seem to live these days), I checked a couple other news and entertainment websites, to make sure it wasn't a hoax (Because "celebrity death hoaxes" aren't exactly unheard of on the Internet).
But it was true.
When I met my friend Howard at the movies the next day, he said exactly what I was thinking - "I'm surprised how hard this is hitting me".
I'm not sure how I'd define myself in terms of being a Robin Williams "fan"; I watched Mork & Mindy through most of its run, didn't really care that much for his stand-up (More on that momentarily), and saw a lot of his movies, but skipped most of the ones that were not well-reviewed.
In any case, whatever the level of my "fan-dom", he was part of my world for 36-plus years (From seeing his initial appearance on Happy Days back in the 70s, to watching World's Greatest Dad on Netflix a month or so ago).
So I think part of what I'm responding to with his death is simply "I was used to this person/performer being around, and 'checking in on him' from time-to-time, and now he's gone, and it's weird".
The FB status I posted shortly after the news was something like, "It's always scary when this happens to someone who has everything I aspire to"; Robin Williams was rich, successful, much-beloved, etc...and, ultimately, none of that was enough for him to keep out-running his demons (Struggles with addiction, depression, and - icing-on-the-cake-time - a recent diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. And what must that be like to a person already struggling - "Hey, you know how you feel bad already? Well hang on, because it's about to get a lot worse"). It's another nail-in-the-coffin to the idea that "Someday I'll get the things I want in life, and when I do, they'll make me happy".
On some level, it leaves me wondering, "Why aspire to anything, if it's not going to make me any happier than I am now?" (Which could clearly be a D-land topic all by itself).
I thought about that when Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of a drug overdose earlier this year, but it didn't hit me quite as hard because I didn't feel as if I knew him (Not the same way I, rightly or wrongly, felt I "knew" Robin Williams). His (excellent) work didn't give me any "insight" into who he was "in real life", and I knew nothing of his personal life (All I knew of his drug issues is that he went into rehab because of a relapse - it was the first I'd heard of him having a drug issue - and he was dead a month later). So basically it was like, "He was where I'd like to be in my career, and it would have been cool to get to work with him", and that was about it.
With Robin Williams, on the other hand, I've followed his work so long I thought it at least suggested who he was as a person.
And while I wouldn't say we were "Brothers from another mother" or anything like that, I did feel a certain, I don't know what to call it, a certain affinity, perhaps?
I've wondered, in recent days, if one reason "I didn't care for his stand-up", particularly early-on, is that it reminded me too much of my own constant need to be "on" at that point, because if I wasn't being funny/entertaining, no one gave a shit about me.
Or maybe, at that point, I was just jealous that he was so much better at it than I was.
(I don't think I've ever outgrown that need/desire to be "on" with people, believing that's really all I have to "offer". The only reason I'm not that way now, at least not all the time, is I'm just too tired.)
And in terms of his acting, there's a core of sadness and pain in his work - in the work I've seen, anyway - that I relate to, an essential loneliness I think, at some level, informs why I'm an actor.
I think a lot of actors believe, on some level, that being an actor won't just "make people like them", though there is that, but that, by using the "darkness" they feel inside in their acting, it'll "transform" that darkness into...well, if not "light", then at least "less darkness".
But it doesn't really seem to work that way.
And that's frightening, because, much like I don't have "a backup plan" in terms of my career, I don't have an "emotional backup plan" in case "I get everything I thought I wanted in life, and still feel sad and lonely".
Well, I'm sure I'm not done with this...but I'm done for now.
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