From Drag Queen to Genie: A Rundown of Robin Williams’ Best Roles

The unexpected suicide of Robin Williams has left in its wake the natural contemplation of the extensive career he has left behind as his legacy. With so many iconic roles in his canon, narrowing it down to just a few is practically impossible, if not totally arbitrary. But below are arguably some of the best roles Williams ever rendered to the screen.

Dead Poets Society: Before Dangerous Minds or Precious, where the inspirational teacher movie had to involve motivating underprivileged kids, there was Dead Poets Society. Released in 1989, this is one of Peter Weir’s most memorable pre-Lord of the Rings works. Williams as John Keating, a zany new English teacher at an all boys school, strikes the perfect balance between comedic and moving.

Giving voice to Genie in Aladdin
Giving voice to Genie in Aladdin
Aladdin: Williams as the voice of Genie is part of what will forever make this one of the best Disney movies ever created. That, and he did the voice of the merchant at the beginning of the movie who sings us the lovely “Arabian Nights.”
Granny chic
Granny chic
Mrs. Doubtfire: In one of the more modern portrayals of an elderly trans woman, Mrs. Doubtfire is arguably Williams at his best. With a role that allowed him to really showcase all the finer points of his comic sensibilities, we soon forget all about how weird it is that Sally Field wouldn’t want to hire someone whose qualifications are “I am job” instead of some hoity-toity old lady.
Looking rather Yeti-like in Jumanji
Looking rather Yeti-like in Jumanji
Jumanji: Part of what made the 90s the 90s was Jumanji. Board games never seemed so exciting as we follow the trials and tribulations of Alan Parrish (Williams) from adolescence to adulthood while he grapples with the game that has simultaneously ruined and bettered his existence.
Playing the shrink
Playing the shrink
Good Will Hunting: A great movie for so many reasons, Good Will Hunting is perfected by the presence of Williams as Sean Maguire, an unlikely source of therapy for Will, the eponymous troubled Bostonian who can’t seem to bring himself to physically or emotionally progress past his job as a janitor, or custodial arts, as John Bender would say.

The Birdcage: Easily one of the best “gay” movies ever made, Mike Nichols’ adaptation of Jean Poiret’s play remains a staple in any complete video library (tangible or otherwise). Williams’ portrayal of Armand Goldman, a cabaret owner trying to play it straight for the sake of his son’s impending marriage to a girl with a conservative, high-profile political family, produced some of the greatest catch phrases in the annals (no pun intended) of film history.
Instructing
Instructing
And so, while Williams may have had some less that cherishable gems during his career (e.g. Bicentennial Man and License to Wed), these are the roles that will forever set him apart as one of the greats, both in a comedic and dramatic capacity.

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  1. Pingback: Lauren Bacall: The Death of A Great New Yorker Ironically Signals The True End of Hollywood’s Golden Era | Culled Culture

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