CPH Post

InOut

Our private loss as public figure dies


Mrs Doubtfire was one of many classic performances by the late Williams

August 28, 2014
19:00

by Lawrence Shanahan


First it was Philip Seymour Hoffman, and now, out of nowhere, Robin Williams and Richard Attenborough back-to-back.
There’s something disturbing about these unexpected celebrity deaths, and I’m not sure quite what it is.

It’s not like this is someone intimately involved in your life – maybe you have some fond memories associated with one of their performances – yet it never fails to leave you feeling a bit uneasy.

Is it the corruption of that nostalgic memory of being welcomed to Jurassic Park by Professor John Hammond, or hearing Mrs Doubtfire holler “Helloooooooooooooo?"

It’s almost as if the moment a celebrity dies, the fact that they were a living being in the first place dawns on you for the first time.
All of a sudden Williams ceased to be the kid, genie, transvestite or therapist that we’ve known him to be, and this image became replaced by a much more poignant one: a recovering alcoholic who struggles deeply with depression.

It’s a loss, but not just of the actor himself. It’s a loss of the image you had of him, or the memories of watching his movies – they become overshadowed by the bitter truth that underneath all of those surface smiles and speedy witticisms there was a human being struggling even worse than the rest of us. 

But at the same time, there’s no denying that death gives that one last performance a disturbed appeal. 

Take Heath Ledger for example: would The Dark Knight have achieved quite the same effect if Ledger hadn’t died before the premiere? 

No doubt it was an admirable performance, but perhaps the Joker wouldn’t have been quite as memorable if the audience wasn’t thinking about the fact that they were looking at a man who had recently overdosed on prescription pills.

Perhaps he wouldn’t have won that Oscar back in 2009, which would have put, well, Philip Seymour Hoffman in line. 

I guess we’ll just have to waituntil next year’s award ceremony for that one. 

 




Latest Comments

BBC Interview About Julien Blanc with Tim Samuels...

(William Harvey on November 27, 2014 20:29)

Wow, hurrah for stone-age wood chopping.

(Zara Bieler on November 27, 2014 18:54)

The worst thing i've ever seen

(Daniel van der Noon on November 27, 2014 13:14)

Only 14% more?

(Jens Rost on November 27, 2014 01:44)

I don't like the idea of the government taking on the job of "protecting"...

(Jenni Silberstein on November 27, 2014 01:20)

"the belief that most other cultures are lesser is widespread. We all have a...

(Lorenzo Luis Albano Farias on November 27, 2014 00:26)

Underpants

(William Harvey on November 26, 2014 19:29)

This must end

(Dyan Kane on November 26, 2014 19:23)

But Ray, surely it is THIS article that we are referring too? Is it really...

(Lars Mathiesen on November 26, 2014 17:04)

"It takes a lot of courage to go against the norm," as Karina Lins writes in...

(Gale Langseth on November 26, 2014 14:12)