My hubby has some thoughts he wished to share of his time working on Mrs. Doubtfire as an extra. For two weeks he was at our local restaurant Bridges which was completely shut down, fenced off and even tented in some areas to make it look like nighttime while filming. Tim worked the oddest of hours. When they said to show up he did. It could be in the middle of the night, early in the morning, late afternoon, etc. Robin Williams makeup took hours to put on. He sat at a table adjacent to the family table and heard and saw it all. Truly a memorable experience. Here are some thoughts he had with the death of Robin.......
The Power of Observation
We all have known people we've had constant contact with family, friends, school mates. They have opinions on all subjects and influence us through those opinions. What about those who influence us whom we have never met? How much can they shape your thoughts? Some of those people are in the news and media.
I had the great pleasure of being an extra on the filming of Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993 at Bridges Restaurant in our hometown of Danville, California. This was to be 15 minutes of the film and take 2 weeks to film. Robin Williams was of course the one to watch. Sally Fields and Pierce Bronson were also there acting and observing Robin in action. This part of the film was unscripted dialogue, therefor many takes were stopped because of their attempt to keep the movie from being an R rating. Also because the uncontrollable laughter by the whole crew would ruin a take. The extras were under strict orders to keep quiet, which we did.
Watching Robin was a unique experience, and my time there felt like it was a private performance rather than filming of a movie. Bouncing from one sketch to another occurred constantly. His death reminded me of his genius as well as his vulnerability. Robin, who was married to his new second wife at the time, showed his vulnerable personal side for all to witness. The crew did not like her being there. He needed her, and we could see his personal side. His off camera self was not aloof just very human.
Robin gave me pleasure in Mrs. Doubtfire and through all his performances, but I could see then, and more recently in his now cancelled TV show, an underlying cloud in his persona. This troubled side was becoming more visible. Something was lurking off camera, that was now in this new show, affecting him on camera. The comic genius wasn't even funny. Something was up. Now we know.
So what did I learn from Robin Williams life? He was publicly upbeat, but privately dealing with demons. Don't we all have a bit of depression in us? Demons of our own? Haven't we all medicated ourselves with the available alcohol and drugs? Haven't we also used humor as a way of coping? Burying ourselves in work, exercise, etc?
We must be sensitive to those around us and the depth of their needs. There are limits to our abilities and powers to help others with issues, or for that matter even notice them. On the other side, allowing others into our private world to help us is also an obstacle. We show vulnerability that we are trained not to show. Apparently he did and still didn't make it. Robin however, still gave us laughter as a great way of both escaping and coping in a healthy way. Lets all laugh more! That at least, is a start.