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The 5 best Robin Williams movies to remember him by

  • August 11, 2019


The characters Robin Williams brought to life will live in our hearts forever.

There was no one quite like Robin Williams, gone five years this weekend. 

Fans were introduced to him in 1978 when he strapped on his rainbow-striped suspenders to play the lovable alien Mork opposite Pam Dawber in TV’s “Mork Mindy.” But he quickly became beloved for a film career in which he played everything from Teddy Roosevelt (in “Night at the Museum”) to Disney’s hilarious Genie (the animated “Aladdin”).

In remembrance of the legendary actor and improvisational comedian (who died on Aug. 11, 2014), we picked out five of his best films. But, really, you can’t go wrong with any of his movies, except maybe “Patch Adams.” 

If you want to seize the day: ‘Dead Poets Society’

A heady mix of inspiration and heartbreak, there’s nothing quite like watching “Dead Poets Society” when you want to check off all the emotional boxes. Williams plays an embattled English teacher at an elite boys’ boarding school, who is trying to open the minds of his pupils with the works of Walt Whitman and more dead poets. Endlessly quotable, the best scene remains when, after Williams’ character is fired, his students all stand on their desks declaring “Oh captain, my captain!” to their friend and mentor. 

If you like wartime humor: ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’

At once a contemplative portrait of real-life Armed Forces Radio Service DJ Adrian Cronauer, and a thigh-slapping send-up of the Vietnam War, “Good Morning, Vietnam” is one of the best examples of Williams melding his comedic work with something slightly sharper. 

If you love Boston and math: ‘Good Will Hunting’

After getting Oscar nominations for “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society,” and “The Fisher King,” Williams finally walked away with the trophy for his performance in Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s big break. As Will Hunting’s (Damon) therapist, Williams showed a softer side of his dramatic work and gave a film by two scrappy upstarts the gravitas it needed to succeed. 

If you want a family-friendly good time: ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’

Williams excelled at comedy that could delight children and parents alike. Unfortunately, his best entry into this particular sub-genre, the original “Aladdin,” is unavailable to stream, rent or buy digitally. But “Mrs. Doubtfire” is a perfectly respectable substitute. The classic story of a divorced man who dresses up as an English nanny in order to spend more time with his kids (natch) is one of Williams’ most heartfelt performances.

If you like something a little weird: ‘The Fisher King’

Williams stars in this modern-day (well, modern-day back in 1991) riff on Arthurian legends, in the film by notoriously offbeat director Terry Gilliam. Alongside Jeff Bridges’ depressed former DJ, Williams plays a homeless man reeling from the death of his wife, obsessed with finding the Holy Grail and hallucinating visions of a red knight.

Contributing: Kim Willis

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  • Five years later, were still mourning the loss of Robin Williams, who died on Aug. 11, 2014, at age 63. A look back at the beloved actors illustrious career.1 of 60
  • Williams and Pam Dawber on the set of his breakout TV show quot;Mork amp; Mindyquot; in January 1979.2 of 60
  • Williams dons a Broncos Pony Express cheerleader outfit while filming an episode of quot;Mork amp; Mindyquot; in 1979.3 of 60
  • Williams played Popeye and Shelley Duvall played Olive in the 1980 musical comedy Popeye.4 of 60
  • Williams in a 1982 adaptation of the John Irving novel quot;The World According to Garp.quot;5 of 60
  • Williams in 1984s quot;Moscow on the Hudson.quot;6 of 60
  • Williams received his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of DJ Adrian Cronauer (opposite Chintara Sukapatana as Trin) in 1987s quot;Good Morning Vietnam.quot;7 of 60
  • quot;Oh captain, my captain.quot; Williams in 1989s quot;Dead Poets Society.quot;8 of 60
  • Williams, back row center, in a cast photo for quot;Dead Poets Society.quot;9 of 60
  • In 2013, Williams (here with Alice Drummond) told USA TODAY that his role as Malcolm Sayer in 1990s quot;Awakeningsquot; was his favorite. The part is based on neurologist Oliver Sacks.10 of 60
  • Williams in 1991s quot;The Fisher King.quot;11 of 60
  • Williams plays Peter Banning in 1991's Hook.12 of 60
  • Dustin Hoffman and Williams played photographer during a photo shoot with USA TODAY promoting quot;Hook.quot;13 of 60
  • Williams voiced Genie in 1992's Aladdin.14 of 60
  • Williams starred in the title role of 1993s quot;Mrs. Doubtfire.quot;15 of 60
  • Williams poses with his trademark goofiness during a USA TODAY shoot for 'Jumanji' in 1995. The actor died in 2014.16 of 60
  • Williams played a man trapped in a board game in quot;Jumanji.quot;17 of 60
  • In 1995, Williams and Billy Crystal took part in HBO's Comic Relief VII to raise money for the nation's homeless.18 of 60
  • Nathan Lane and Williams in the 1996 film The Birdcage.19 of 60
  • Williams reads quot;Stinky Cheesequot; to a group of kids during a childrens program at San Franciscos new main library in April 1996.20 of 60
  • Robin Williams stars in 1997's Flubber.21 of 60
  • Williams got elastic while posing for USA TODAY while promoting Flubber.22 of 60
  • Williams and Matt Damon in the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting.23 of 60
  • Williams hugs presenter Mira Sorvino after winning the best supporting actor Oscar for quot;Good Will Huntingquot; at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in March 1998.24 of 60
  • Williams, center, won an Academy Award in 1998 for best supporting actor in Good Will Hunting. Matt Damon, left, and Ben Affleck, right, also won for the movie's screenplay.25 of 60
  • Williams portrayed Hunter Patch Adams, a real-life misfit medical student who risks his career by defying the medical establishment, in 1998's Patch Adams.26 of 60
  • Williams and Annabella Sciorra in 1998's What Dreams May Come.27 of 60
  • Williams played an android alongside Hallie Kate Eisenberg in 1999's Bicentennial Man.28 of 60
  • Williams poses with an exhibit at the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco in December 1999 to promote Bicentennial Man.29 of 60
  • Williams presents an award at the 71st Academy Awards in March 1999.30 of 60
  • Williams donates blood at the Irwin Memorial Blood Center in San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2001. Thousands of people waited in long lines to donate blood for victims of terrorist attacks in New York and in Washington.31 of 60
  • Williams and Edward Norton in the 2002 satirical comedy Death to Smoochy.32 of 60
  • Williams and Al Pacino faced off in 2002 in Insomnia.33 of 60
  • An avid cyclist, Williams rides with his friend Lance Armstrong during a training session as part of a rest day before the 15th stage of the 89th Tour de France in Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux, France, in July 2002.34 of 60
  • Williams listens to his Grammy for best spoken comedy album at the 45th annual Grammy Awards in 2003.35 of 60
  • Williams and Connie Nielsen in 2002s quot;One Hour Photo.quot;36 of 60
  • Williams and Mira Sorvino in 2004s quot;The Final Cut.quot;37 of 60
  • Williams poses for pictures with U.S. soldiers at the base at Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2004.38 of 60
  • Williams yells back at photographers in the photo room with his Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes in January 2005.39 of 60
  • Williams and Anton Yelchin in 2005s quot;House of D.quot;40 of 60
  • Williams and Josh Hutcherson in 2006s quot;RV.quot;41 of 60
  • Robin Williams arrives at the premiere of quot;RVquot; in April 2006 in Los Angeles.42 of 60
  • Host Jack Black, left, slimes Williams at the Kids Choice Awards in Los Angeles in April 2006.43 of 60
  • Williams and Freddie Highmore in 2006s quot;August Rush.quot;44 of 60
  • Williams, with Christopher Walken, played a presidential candidate in 2006s quot;Man of the Year.quot;45 of 60
  • Williams and director Barry Levinson pose for USA TODAY while promoting Man of the Year.46 of 60
  • Ben Stiller, left, and Williams in their 2006 movie quot;Night at the Museum.quot;nbsp;47 of 60
  • Mandy Moore, Williams and John Krasinski in the 2007 comedy License to Wed.48 of 60
  • Williams pretends to wipe away a tear as he accepts the Favorite Scene Stealing Guest Star award at the People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles in January 2009.49 of 60
  • Williams, Seth Green and John Travolta pose for USA TODAY's camera to promote 2009's Old Dogs.50 of 60
  • Bobcat Goldthwait and Williams star in World's Greatest Dad. Goldthwait also wrote and directed the 2009 film.51 of 60
  • Mo'Nique poses with Williams after winning the best supporting actress at the Academy Awards in March 2010.52 of 60
  • Williams speaks onstage during the AFI Life Achievement Award honoring filmmaker Mike Nichols in Culver City, California, in June 2010.53 of 60
  • Williams,  Brad Fleischer and Glenn Davis appear in the play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York in 2011.54 of 60
  • Williams slides into the premiere for the animated movie Happy Feet Two in Hollywood in November 2011.55 of 60
  • Williams and Mila Kunis were caught filming a scene for The Angriest Man in Brooklyn in  New York in September 2012. The movie was released in 2014.56 of 60
  • Williams plays President Dwight Eisenhower and Forest Whitaker is Cecil Gaines in 2013s quot;Lee Daniels The Butler.quot;57 of 60
  • Williams pays tribute to his idol Jonathan Winters at the 2013 Emmy Awards.58 of 60
  • Williams at a news conference for his CBS sitcom quot;The Crazy Onesquot; in Beverly Hills in October 2013.59 of 60
  • Hamish Linklater, Williams, James Wolk and Amanda Setton star in the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones.60 of 60

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