How Robin Williams and Aladdin changed my life…

aladdin_lIt was such a shock for the world to wake up this morning and hear the news of Robin Williams leaving us, having taken his own life at the young age of 63. For a moment I didn’t actually believe it. The guy is a comic genius – I wouldn’t put it past him to start this rumour himself, for one reason or another, right? But it didn’t take 5 minutes of scrolling news feeds, Twitter and Facebook to learn it was true.

Today sucks.

When I shut my laptop and thought about it, I pictured myself laughing at his face – the way he would contort it into all those weird expressions; the nanu-nanu he’d cry in Mork and Mindy, then the almost creepy cream-pie-on-the-face scene from Mrs Doubtfire. Wow. He’s really gone? The comedy legend we all grew up with has gone?

Perhaps even more shocking, is the way he went. He was taken by depression – a silent demon that creeps up on those suffering, sometimes to the point of them not being able to control it, or talk about it.

Aladdin changed my life when I was a kid. I remember loving Disney movies before that, but thanks to Robin’s comedy genius as the genie in that particular one, I viewed it totally differently. I remember rewinding the clunky VHS version to the start as soon as I finished it and watching it over and over.  It was the genie who made me cry, in the end. I laughed, and then I cried… it was a magic carpet ride I didn’t want to end. It was the first movie I remember that really reached me. And that was his gift.

Williams was able to be hilarious and yet completely melancholy in the same breath. You never quite knew where you stood, which left you wanting more. He was a puzzle you had to figure out in pretty much every movie, but in every one he was compelling and almost addictive to watch. He was emotional and real.

For such a creative brain, the world must have been a kaleidoscope of emotions to this man in reality, which is why he was such a great actor. But also perhaps why it all become too much?

I remember, after watching Aladdin, becoming obsessed with how real the movie was, in spite of it being so fantastical! It made me want to write even more; to create real characters who jumped off pages and flew into people’s memories and imaginations like the genie, Aladdin and Jasmine did. My own creativity was fuelled in no uncertain terms by this man, and what’s more, he always came across so warm and humble in interviews. He was known to be a very generous guy, who gave a lot to charity. Inspirational in every way.

I hope he goes on to an amazing place now. I hope he is riding a magic carpet with a smile on his face as we speak, through a whole new world of happiness, because he took us to so many that we’ll never forget.

RIP Robin.