HBO will release a documentary about late actor and comedian Robin Williams, who took his life in 2014, on July 16. The documentary, titled Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind, will be narrated mostly by the actor himself and feature an interview with his son, Zak Williams, as well as home videos, clips of his stand-up comedy, and accounts from friends such as Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, and Steve Martin. It will illustrate the highs and lows throughout the course of Williams’ career and give us a more intimate glimpse into his emotions. The trailer for the documentary was recently released by HBO on YouTube.
Williams was known as an unmatched “master” onstage, capable of captivating, enchanting, and thrilling his audience using his world-renowned improvisational skills. He was known for leading San Francisco’s “comedy renaissance” beginning in the mid-1970s. Later, Williams rose to stardom through critically acclaimed and/or widely successful films such as Dead Poets Society, Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, One Hour Photo, Jumanji, and Mrs. Doubtfire.
Yet offstage and offscreen, Williams may have barely kept his life together. He was known to combat his depression with drugs and alcohol, openly speaking about these subjects in interviews. In a talk with Kerry O’Brien on ABC’s 7.30 Report in 2010, he spoke of gradually “falling into the trap” of alcohol and cocaine. He described his drug use as a way to self-medicate, to not talk to people, and to shut himself off from the outside world, if only for a moment.
In the months leading up to his suicide, Williams had been battling with depression, anxiety, and paranoia. At 63 years of age, he eventually hanged himself with a belt, leaving behind a wife and three children, and shocking the world.
In 2015, wife Susan Schneider spoke out about her late husband’s death with ABC news for the first time since his death. She described watching her lover and best friend “sink” as he continued to struggle with what would later be revealed from an autopsy as Lewy body dementia. This refers to a disease characterized by abnormal protein deposits known as Lewy bodies, which affect essential brain chemicals in ways that lead to problems with thinking, movement, mood, and behavior. Unbeknownst to the world, Williams had therefore not been suffering just from mental illness, but from a physical condition compromising his mental well-being.
Williams had been a source of inspiration and brightness for the world, with an ability to make people laugh endlessly. On the day of his death, according to son Zak, the world and his family members lost a “gentle, kind, and generous man” who had strove to make others happy despite his overwhelming mental turmoil.
Perhaps Come Inside My Mind will shed more light on what may have been going on through Williams’ mind throughout the course of the progression of his disease. In light of other suicides by highly successful designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef, author, and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain, the documentary will hopefully draw more attention to mental illness and inspire ways for loved ones to reach out to those showing signs of an internal struggle.
Regardless of intelligence, fame, and financial success, those suffering from mental illness or physical conditions compromising their mental health can struggle and experience a hopelessness so expansive that they feel as though suicide is the only way out. But by taking their own lives, they rob the world of their light and their presence.
Come Inside My Mind will undoubtedly allow us to experience some of Williams’ emotions, but we will surely continue to grieve for the loss of his presence and long for the ways in which he inspired us through his films and comedy.
Featured Image via Wikipedia