The Man Off-Screen | Camila Mendoza

January 8, 2015 4:06 PM

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Robin Williams brought happiness, laughter and love to the world. His death brought sadness, silence and heartbreak. His death made the world a little bit emptier. I had the amazing opportunity to spend some time with Robin about two years ago. Through his never-ending jokes, I could not help but be completely in awe of him. I studied him with a smile, one of those smiles that cannot fade when you are with an infectiously comical person. I looked into his eyes. Robin was a man oozing with intelligence not only with every word he spoke, but also with every stare he gave you. Yet, as I looked into his eyes, I was shocked. I was expecting to see the joyous eyes of the man who I watched countless times on the screen; who got me through my parent's divorce with Mrs. Doubtfire, who made me laugh more than I ever had with Armand Goldman in The Birdcage and the man who was brimming with hope and life in Dead Poets' Society. Instead, I saw eyes filled with sadness and pain. I still have the clear image in my head of his smile. It was a smile that masked the suffering that he held within himself. And as I listened to him, his brilliance in all its glory, I came to appreciate him even more. Not as an actor or a comedian-but as a person.

I met Robin under rather unusual circumstances. He was playing my great-great grandfather, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) in the movie Lee Daniels' The Butler. My Grandmother took me to New Orleans with her to meet Robin, the wonderful Melissa Leo (who was playing Mamie Eisenhower) and the writer of the...

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