Robin Williams: Mara Wilson pays tribute to Mrs Doubtfire co-star 'He was different with grown-ups'

The former actress recalls Williams’ incredible ability to relate to children

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Mara Wilson has paid tribute to the late Robin Williams, whom she worked with in Mrs Doubtfire, describing his natural affinity and ease with children.

"Robin was so on so much of the time that I was surprised to hear my mother describe him as 'shy,'" she said. "'When he talks to you,' she told her friends, 'he’ll be looking down at his shoes the whole time.' I figured he must have been different with grown-ups."

Wilson first acted with Williams when she was five-years-old and then met him again for a reading of 1998 film What Dreams May Come.

"He came alive in the reading, and had us all laughing at lunch, but my strongest impression came when we saw each other for the first time that day," she wrote on her website. "Robin crossed to me from across the room, got down to my level, and whispered 'Hi, how are you?' He asked how my family was doing, how school was, never raising his voice and only sometimes making eye contact. He seemed so vulnerable. 'So this is what Mom meant,' I thought. It was as if I was seeing him for the first time. He was a person now."

Williams was found dead in his California home on 11 August after having taken his own life through hanging. He had been suffering from severe depression.


Wilson has waited until now to offer her tribute until her grieving felt less intense.

"Doing interviews is usually fun and easy for me, but I didn’t feel I could do any then," she said. "If I was crying seeing Robin’s face on the Daily News, I would not have been able to keep it together on cable news, and people didn’t need to see that."

Wilson went onto share her gladness that mental health, depression and suicide are currently being seriously discussed. The 27-year-old has openly talked about her OCD, anxiety and depression in the past, but urged the public not to romanticise mental health issues.

Video: Fans and stars remember Robin Williams

"Mental health needs to be taken as seriously as physical health; the two are inseparable. But I am afraid people will romanticize what Robin went through," she wrote. "Please don’t romanticize mental anguish. I know many people who think to be an artist means you have to suffer, or at least wallow in old miseries. It’s not only an incorrect assumption — there are comedians who had happy upbringings, I swear — but it will only hurt them and the people who care about them. Artists who struggled with mental illness, trauma, disease, addiction (often the latter is a way of self-medicating after the first three) did not want or welcome it.

"To focus on someone’s pain instead of their accomplishments is an insult to them. As my friend Patrick put it, a person is a person first and a story second."