It's been a week since we lost comic genius Robin Williams, whose cause of death has launched an outpouring of essays and studies on the links between depression and suicide, rightly bringing to light an issue that deserves more awareness and compassion. Coker pointed towards the Orange County Health Care Agency's suicide report released Thursday with alarming statistics on the staggering suicide rate in Orange County in the past five years.
The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana has responded to Williams' death with a retrospective screening of one of his most acclaimed roles, as a frantic and questionably deranged homeless man in Terry Gilliam's 1991 film The Fisher King. This one-night-only screening will benefit the Jacqueline Bogue Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Orange County.
Many equate Williams with roles in bigger films like the Genie in Aladdin, John Keating in Dead Poets Society and Mrs. Doubtfire, so it's fair to say that this film doesn't immediately spring to mind when discussing the comic actor; even I was unfamiliar with the film. Williams plays Parry, a homeless man with mental health issues that meets Jeff Bridges' former DJ Jack Lucas in his hour of remorse after a radio rant of his leads a madman to go on a shooting rampage in a New York bar. Lucas discovers that Parry was a former professor whose wife was one of the victims of the bar shooting, an event that subsequently led Parry's mental stability to go over the edge. Lucas resolves to aid Parry in his search for the "Holy Grail" that he obsesses about, and to help him win the affection of shy publisher Lydia Sinclair (Amanda Plummer). It has a 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and gained an Academy Award nom for Williams. Trailer below.
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Director Terry Gilliam recently took to discussing the filming of The Fisher King with Vulture, specifically Williams' intense commitment to his role. He cited Williams' stubborn need to keep doing more takes of a scene, despite nailing it early on. "He felt he had even more anguish and pain to spill out of the character. And I had to really stop him. I had to say, 'Robin, you've reached a point here, way beyond what we expected. We've got what we needed. Now you're just hurting yourself.'
"But that's what was so extraordinary about him," Gilliam continued. "How he would commit everything and more to what he had to do. That's also why I think his character in The Fisher King is in many ways the closest one to Robin, just that range- the madness, the damage, the pain, the sweetness, the outrageousness. That was the role I think that stretched him to the limits.
The Jacqueline Bogue Foundation for Suicide Prevention aims to bring awareness to the causes and conditions of suicide and treat them, and provide support to loved ones of those who have committed suicide, focusing their efforts for residents in Orange County. For more information and to possibly make a more direct donation, visit http://www.jboguefoundation.com/ For tickets to the Frida cinema screening, visit the Frida's Eventbrite page here.