From New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff, the definitive biography of Robin Williams – a compelling portrait of one of The united states’s most beloved and misunderstood entertainers.
From his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his breakout role in Mork & Mindy and his Academy Award-winning performance in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams used to be a singularly innovative and beloved entertainer. He incessantly came across as a man possessed, holding forth on culture and politics whilst mixing in personal revelations – all with mercurial, tongue-twisting intensity as he inhabited and shed one character after another with lightning speed.
But as Dave Itzkoff shows in this revelatory biography, Williams’s comic brilliance masked a deep well of conflicting emotions and self-doubt, which he drew upon in his comedy and in celebrated films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; The Fisher King; Aladdin; and Mrs. Doubtfire, where he showcased his limitless gift for improvisation to bring to life quite a lot of characters. And in Good Will Hunting he gave an intense and controlled performance that revealed the true range of his talent.
Itzkoff also shows how Williams struggled mightily with addiction and depression – topics he discussed openly whilst performing and throughout interviews – and with a debilitating condition at the end of his life that affected him in ways his fans never knew. Drawing on more than a hundred original interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, in addition to extensive archival research, Robin is a fresh and original look at a man whose work touched such a lot of lives.
An Amazon Best Book of May 2018: David Itzkoff’s monument of a biography is an intimate and thorough examination of Robin Williams as both man and performer. From his years as a reclusive kid playing up in his attic bedroom, to his early days of standup, to the runaway success of Mork and Mindy, to movies, addiction, recovery, and fame, his need for affirmation used to be the thread that drew him forward. He sought that affirmation by working tirelessly, and Itzkoff chronicles the actor’s successes and failures, in addition to his close friendships in and out of show business, to create a deep psychological portrait. Robin Williams possessed an earnestness and a craving for honesty that made him shine brighter at the same time as it threatened to destroy him. This can be a bittersweet read, with highs and lows, but the Robin Williams who emerges is as compelling as his greatest performances. — Chris Schluep