Heartwarming Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Robin Williams

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Vote up the stories that make you really, really miss Robin Williams.

Robin Williams was one of those rare, tour-de-force performers who was able to bring a thousand characters to life - often in rapid succession. After his unexpected passing in 2014, celebrities and fans alike shared their love for the late comedian. 

According to those who worked with him, Williams's heart was as big as the characters he portrayed. Former costars have shared some heartwarming behind-the-scenes stories about Williams, from the time he put on an impromptu comedy show in a park to the time he wrote to a younger costar's principal to reverse her expulsion. Friends and family of Williams know that they ain't never had a friend like him. 

  • 1
    1,892 VOTES

    He Recommended That His Agent Sign Ethan Hawke, Williams’s Costar In ‘Dead Poets Society’

    Ethan Hawke appeared on Conan in September 2018. While speaking to host Conan O'Brien, Hawke reminisced about his time on set with Robin Williams for Dead Poets Society. Hawke talked about how Williams would tease him for being such a serious actor, and how that helped land Hawke representation:

    He'd be making fun of me, call me a wet rag, saying "Oh, Mr. Hawke doesn't think it's funny," and he would like, bow down and I'm like, "I'm just trying to stay in character dude, leave me alone!" And I really thought he hated me... and then, the movie ended, and I got this call and they said, "Hey, I'm Robin Williams's agent, and he says that you're really good and that you need an agent." And so Robin helped me get my very first agent, and he hooked me up. 

    1,892 votes
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    2,020 VOTES

    While Filming ‘Hook,’ He Gave A Young Actor Who Loved ‘Dead Poets Society’ A Walt Whitman Poetry Book

    Dante Basco, who played the leader of the Lost Boys, Rufio, in Hook, was really excited to start filming the 1991 reimagining of the Peter Pan story. On the second anniversary of Williams's passing in August 2016, the former child star spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about how big of an influence Williams was on him - and how he encouraged his love of poetry:

    He was just a warm and welcoming spirit, and that, for me, will live forever... My favorite movie going into the film was Dead Poets Society, and we spent hours on end, away from everyone else, just getting ready in the morning, talking about poetry.

    He would bring in poems he wanted me to read, and I was writing poetry a lot. He ended up giving me Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, this really beautiful leather-bound book for my wrap present, and I gave him a hat that said "Oh Captain, My Captain" that I got stitched up at a swap meet.

    2,020 votes
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    2,571 VOTES

    When One Of His Costars Got Expelled From School For Spending Too Much Time On 'Mrs. Doubtfire,' He Wrote A Letter Of Support

    Lisa Jakub, who played William's daughter Lydia Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire, was expelled by her high school for spending too much of her time on set as opposed to in the classroom. When Williams heard about this, he opted to write a strongly worded letter to Jakub's principal, saying that his costar was "bright, inquisitive, and an eager to learn young lady." He also stressed that she could bring value to the classroom thanks to her real-world experiences, asking that her principal "reconsider [her] policy and allow Lisa the opportunity to work and attend school," calling her "an asset to any classroom." 

    Jakub shared this letter in the wake of Williams's passing, and she told The Independent that she never got to explain what an impact that made on her:

    Even though I had not spoken with Robin in a very long time, I always assumed there would be some future opportunity to tell him that his letter changed my life... It taught me that you stand up for the things that matter. And even if your attempts fail, you tried. You told the truth. You took care of your friends. You fought back.

    2,571 votes
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    2,503 VOTES

    He Delighted The Child Actors On The 'Mrs. Doubtfire' Set With Puppets And Poop Jokes

    Child actor Mara Wilson got her big break with 1993's Mrs. Doubtfire as the youngest daughter of the titular protagonist. After he passed in 2014, Wilson took to her blog to recount some of her favorite memories of working with Williams on the film. She recalled in great detail some of the lengths he would go to to make her and the other child actors laugh:

    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 between takes 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 five, so poop jokes were the height of hilarity - as his right hand yelled back “Well, there’s no toilet paper at my house!”  ...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.

    2,503 votes
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    1,435 VOTES

    He Kept Difficult Days On 'The Fisher King' Set Light With Personalized Jokes

    Terry Gilliam, the director behind 1991's The Fisher King, said that one scene in particular wouldn't have made it if Williams hadn't been his characteristic, charasmatic self. He spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about a grueling scene they filmed in a Chinese restaurant:

    Everything had gone wrong, and everyone was exhausted... Suddenly, Robin started this 45-minute stand-up routine. What was extraordinary was, it was about the crew, the actors. He could do specific jokes about every single person in the crew. It was an incredible quality he had, to remember in detail every single person and make these wonderful jokes all at once. He lifted everyone's spirit. By dawn, we were flying. Robin salvaged the whole night.

    Linda Obst, the producer of the film, also noted Williams's generosity of spirit. During the scene set in Grand Central Station, he defused a stressful situation:

    We were shooting the scene where he waltzes in Grand Central Station through all the extras. Commuters would be arriving at 5 a.m. We were so late, we couldn’t break for the extras to have water. The AD was so freaked out, he threw down his walkie talkie and quit.

    So as Robin’s waltzing in this heavy costume, he’s grabbing water on the sidelines and handing to all the extras when they were hot, tired, crowded and ready to faint. We could never have wrapped that scene - which might be the best one in the movie - without his spirit.

    1,435 votes
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    1,790 VOTES

    He Teared Up When The Producers Of 'The Crazy Ones' Surprised Him With A Former Costar

    He Teared Up When The Producers Of 'The Crazy Ones' Surprised Him With A Former Costar
    Photo: CBS

    Pam Dawber played Mindy alongside Williams's Mork on Mork & Mindy. Williams transitioned to the big screen after the show's run, and Dawber found herself slowly moving away from Hollywood. But when the producers of Williams's show The Crazy Ones approached her about a possible cameo in early 2014, she couldn't resist.

    The best part? Dawber and the producers surprised Williams with the cameo. The A.V. Club's Will Harris revealed that The Crazy Ones writer-producer Tracy Poust said Williams "got misty-eyed" when they told him Dawber had signed on for the show, to which she replied: 

    I don’t know what it is about the two of us, but I have just loved him on a very deep level. Robin is truly one of the kindest, most caring people I’ve ever met. He cares about all the younger cast members, and I’m so happy they’ve surrounded him with such talented kids. 

    1,790 votes