HBO is exploring the complex and brilliant mind of Robin Williams in the July 16 documentary, ‘Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.’ Before the film airs, here are 5 things you may not know about the late actor.
Most of the world knows Robin Williams. He was one of the most lovable and celebrated actors of his time. From Mrs. Doubtfire to Hook to Good Will Hunting, the Oscar winner captured our imagination and our hearts in every single role he ever played. He committed suicide on Aug. 11, 2014, at the age of 63. He is deeply missed. The following are 5 things you probably didn’t know about Robin.
1. Before he made it big, he performed as a mime in New York City. Robin was photographed in 1974 with a friend putting on mime performances in Central Park. While he was trying to pursue comedy after college, he also attended a workshop in the basement of a Lutheran church.
2. He improvised most of the Genie’s lines in Aladdin. Robin revealed in a Reddit AMA before his death, that he initially read the scripted lines, but he asked to try something different. He noted that “18 hours of recording later, they had the Genie. I just started playing, and they said ‘just go with it, go with it, go with it.’ So I improvised the character. I think that in the end, there were something like 40 different voices that I did for that role.”
3. Billy Crystal and Christopher Reeve were two of his best friends. Billy revealed on The View that “late at night I get these calls [from Robin] and we’d go for hours.” Christopher was Robin’s roommate and best friend at Juilliard. Robin was there for the Superman star after he was paralyzed in a riding accident. “He announced that he was a proctologist and had to examine me immediately,” Reeve wrote in his memoir Still Me, according to a New York Times review. “And for the first time since the accident I laughed.”
4. He had an addiction to cocaine in the early ’80s. “Cocaine for me was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down,” Robin told PEOPLE in 1988. Robin and Robert De Niro had been with Animal House star John Belushi at his hotel before the actor died from an overdose of heroin and cocaine in 1982. The tragedy pushed Robin to get clean.
5. He suffered from dementia before his death. Robin was initially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. However, he was later diagnosed with diffuse Lewy body dementia, author Dave Itzkoff wrote in his biography, Robin, according to Deadline. Lewy body dementia is a progressive brain disorder that causes problems with thinking, memory, moving, sleep and/or changes in behavior, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association.