Robin Williams could be viewed as a cult actor who crossed into the mainstream. He has all the ingredients. But the plain truth is, he shot right to the top, practically right away, with the sit-com MORK AND MINDY, and with a handful of successful of successful movies, he was an A-list superstar for many years.
But still, there is a cult of Robin Williams... That being his little known roles, completely passed over in the many news stories which had Robin going straight from Mork into GOOD MORNING VIETNAM. So here let's check out his underrated performances in films you might want to check out...
1) THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP: As writer T.S. Garp, Robin Williams proved himself a dramatic actor. In scenes reacting to the death of various family members, he pulled off some pretty heavy drama in this epic dark comedy from 1982, directed by George Roy Hill and based on a John Irving novel, that seems to have fallen through the cracks. A tragedy in itself.
2) THE SURVIVORS: Also starring Walter Matthau, this is a pretty hilarious flick. Despite falling apart in the third act, the 1983 Michael Ritchie buddy comedy about a hit man (Jerry Reed) targeting two unlucky regular fellows... Walter Matthau as a former gas station owner and Williams as a frantically unglued businessman (who was fired by a parrot!)... is not only awesome, but various scenes, like a diner being robbed, was later used in Quentin Tarantino's PULP FICTION. But back to basics: Williams is really terrific while he loses his marbles, but is especially moving as he struggles to constantly regain them.
3) THE BEST OF TIMES: Robin plays a guy whose entire life is altered after he loses a touchdown pass in high school. This heartfelt and quirky 1986 sport nostalgia flick shows the character, along with Kurt Russell, trying to cope with this tragic blunder, and at the same time reliving the experience to set things right. Once again, Robin tows the line of intense and comedic like only he can.
4) MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON: As everyone knows by now, Williams first got "Oscar's attention" with GOOD MORNING VIETNAM followed by FISHER KING, and finally won the trophy for GOOD WILL HUNTING. But how he was passed up in 1984 playing a Russian musician who defects into America - is unbelievable. He nailed the role, and didn't seem like a comic playing a Russian. It felt like the real thing!
5) CLUB PARADISE: This maligned Harold Ramis ensemble comedy wasn't a favorite of Robin's. In fact he stated that he tried to save the picture. But it's not entirely awful, and provided the frenzied funnyman a chance at, with a newly toned body and a model Twiggy as his girlfriend, both leading man status and a chance to play it straight around other more zany characters. Thus, in mellowing the usual spontaneous frenzy, he did all right.