Robin Williams: His advice still matters

Robin Williams: His advice still matters

Robin Williams gave a lot of advice. Whether in character or as himself, he was universally perceived as someone who knew things the rest of us had somehow missed. He often suggested reaching out for help and from what we know, he took his own advice more than once. Whether on reaching out or fighting indifference, his words carry as much power now as they ever did. 

Warning: Some of the scenes below contain spoilers

In 2013 Williams participated in a question and answer session on the social media site, Reddit. He was asked everything from the kind of animal he would be (dolphin) to his recipe for success.

In his films

Good Will Hunting

As a therapist in Good Will Hunting Williams plays a psychologist helping a brilliant, but troubled young man find his identity. 

In this scene Williams and his client, played by Matt Damon, speak about the myth of perfection in a scene that even had the cameraman laughing. 

“People call these things imperfections. But they’re not. That’s the good stuff. And then we get to choose who we let in to our weird little worlds. You’re not perfect sport. And let me save you the suspense. This girl you met, she’s isn't perfect either. But the question is whether you’re perfect for each other. That’s the whole deal. That’s what intimacy is all about. 
by Dorrine Mendoza via YouTube

Another moment occurs as Williams and Damon speak about the experience of love vs the idea of love. 

“If I ever asked you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked a woman and been totally vulnerable,” and later when speaking about his wife who died of cancer, “You don’t know about real loss, because that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. 
by Dorrine Mendoza via YouTube

Dead Poets Society

In this scene from Dead Poets Society Williams, playing an unconventional English professor at an exclusive boys school dares his students to think independently and embrace the power of the poetry they’re studying. 

“No matter what anybody else tells you, words and ideas can change the world. We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law business, engineering these are nobel pursuits. And necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love these are what we stay alive for.
by Dorrine Mendoza via YouTube

In the same film he offers this advice on finding a voice,

“We must constantly look at things in a different way.” 
And, "You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.”  
by Dorrine Mendoza via YouTube

Fisher King

In this scene from Fisher King Williams plays a homeless “knight” intent on saving and comforting the forgotten. His speech is aimed at two youths beating up a troubled character played by Jeff Bridges.   

“There’s three things in this world you need. 
Respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis and a navy blazer. One more thing never take your eye off the ball. 
by Dorrine Mendoza via YouTube


Williams plays a doctor who has, at least temporarily, helped patients come out of decades-long catatonic states. Far from viewing the experiment as a failure, in this scene he summarizes what he and his patients learned.

“That the human spirit is more powerful than any drug. And that is what needs to be nourished. Work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter. This is what we’ve forgotten." 
by Dorrine Mendoza via YouTube

Patch Adams

This scene not only contains a bonus appearance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but features an impassioned Williams speaking about empowering patients to also be doctor who offers treatment and comfort to others who suffer. 

“What’s wrong with death sir? What are we so mortally afraid of? Why can’t we treat death with a certain amount of humanity and dignity and decency and God forbid maybe even humor. Death is not the enemy gentlemen. If we’re going to fight a disease let’s fight the most terrible of all, indifference. 

Now I’ve sat in your schools and heard people lecture on transference and professional distance. Transference is inevitable sir. Every human being has an impact on another.”  
by Dorrine Mendoza via YouTube

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