1. Mara Wilson, who played Robin Williams’ on-screen daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire, announced shortly after his death last week that she would be leaving social media for a while as she attempted to come to terms with the loss.
2. However, she’s now written a lovely blog post dedicated to him.
In the post, Wilson wrote about the profound impact Williams made on her life, and how, even though they hadn’t been in touch much in recent years, she always knew that he cared about her.
3. She discussed moments from the making of Mrs. Doubtfire, calling him a “creator” who didn’t simply stick to the script.
She wrote: “He was a creator as much as a performer. After one of my friends posted Robin’s ‘impression of a hot dog’ on Facebook, I realised she had no idea that wasn’t in the script. It was supposed to be a monologue where he listed every voice he could do, but he decided to take the ones he’d been given, add more of his own, and just riff for a while. Chris Columbus, our director, would let Robin perform one or two takes with what was written, then do as many more takes as Robin had variations. Sometimes I wonder why they didn’t give him at least partial screenwriting credit.”
4. Wilson says that Williams spent a lot of time during filming making her laugh and keeping everyone entertained.
“Robin would do anything to make me and the other kids laugh. Those hand puppets that dance alongside the genie in Aladdin’s ‘Friend Like Me’? That must have been his suggestion, because Robin made those in real life. He’d break them out to entertain us between takes. ‘I don’t like you,’ his left hand would say to his right. ‘You smell like poop!’ I would laugh uproariously — I was 5, so poop jokes were the height of hilarity — as his right hand yelled back. ‘Well, there’s no toilet paper at my house!’
“When we were filming the climactic dinner party scene, he would make his carpet bag bark like a dog under the table, then order it to be quiet. He seemed to know instinctively what we would find funny, and never had to resort to saying anything that was inappropriate for children. He was, after all, a father himself.”
5. But she also reveals that he was very shy, too.
Robin was so on so much of the time that I was surprised to hear my mother describe him as ‘shy’. ‘When he talks to you,’ she told her friends, ‘he’ll be looking down at his shoes the whole time.’ I figured he must have been different with grown-ups. I wouldn’t see that side of him myself until a few years later, when I was invited to be part of a table read of What Dreams May Come. He came alive in the reading, and had us all laughing at lunch, but my strongest impression came when we saw each other for the first time that day. Robin crossed to me from across the room, got down to my level, and whispered ‘Hi, how are you?’ He asked how my family was doing, how school was, never raising his voice and only sometimes making eye contact. He seemed so vulnerable. ‘So this is what Mom meant,’ I thought. It was as if I was seeing him for the first time.
6. She concludes the post by expressing her regret at not speaking to him more in recent years.
I had thought maybe the next time I saw Robin I would explain myself to him, let him know that I had loved working with him but didn’t feel like we could do it again, and that being in major studio films again meant a level of scrutiny I didn’t think I could deal with. I wanted to apologise and know he understood. It hurts to know I can’t.
It is remarkable how many lives Robin touched, and how many people said, just as I had, that he reminded them of their fathers. I suppose – could I really end this any other way? – we’re all his goddamn kids, too.