The Five Best Acting Performances By Robin Williams


I think I’m in the minority when I say that I don’t particularly find Robin Williams to be all that funny.   I think he’s an extremely intelligent man and I believe that he might actually be partially certifiable.  But when it comes to his comedy I really think it’s just over the top stuff that’s no different than what British people would do.

I mean I guess it’s entertaining but I happen to find Robin Williams a far better dramatic actor than a comedic one.  Madison, I think you’re with me on this one.  So I’ve decided to highlight five performances that I think rank right up there with some of the best actors in history.

Here are five great dramatic Robin Williams roles….

Awakenings – Dr.Malcolm Sayer


If there’s one character that I think Williams is great at playing it’s the shy, introverted guy.  He does this to a tee in Awakenings.  It’s an incredibly passive role and you just feel his geekiness the entire way through.   At the same time you can see how much conviction his character has.  Great great role for him.

The Fisher King – Henry Sagan

Fisher King

Playing a deranged homeless man isn’t too far fetched here.  Williams’ demeanor is perfect.  And this movie is a great chance for him to encompass comedy and an insane side which I’m guessing how his real life must be.  If you haven’t see The Fisher King then you really must.  Plus it was directed by Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys) so you can’t go wrong.

Patch Adams – Patch Adams


Another example of using comedy but also having a serious side.  Only in this he’s not crazy.  He’s compassionate and passionate at the same time.  Such a fun film and Williams stole the show.

Good Will Hunting – Sean Maguire


Easily my favorite role that Williams ever did.  Also, this is a film I probably should have added to my top 10 the other day.  Oh well.  Personally I’ve seen a therapist before and Williams totally reminds me of the dude I saw.  So that probably means something.  Still though he was incredible in this film.

One Hour Photo – Seymour Parrish

One Hour photo

Anyone who didn’t think Williams would be an awesome psychopath is completely wrong.  The movie was eh, but Williams was friggin’ awesome.

  • Sam

    This might sound naive of me but saying you find him to be a much better dramatic actor than a serious actor redundant. I mean, they are pretty much the same. Either way that’s a good list, I haven’t seen the fisher king but I will now.

  • Marcus

    Excuse me, but where is INSOMNIA?

  • hugo fitzpatrick

    Your forgetting Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia.

    Williams is chilling in it, and Pacino’s decent into madness and confusion is brilliant. Vastly underrated film.

  • Ian

    You should see World’s Greatest Dad. I assume you haven’t seen it or else it would be on this list.

  • Alex

    Wow someone actually likes Patch Adams 😛

  • Nattyb

    @sam – that was a typo, meant to say “comedic.” fixed it.

  • luckypetes

    “the world according to garp”…..his second movie (after popeye)

  • Orleanas

    I’ve also thought of Williams as exemplifying what I believe to be the very thin line between crazy and genius. I totally buy him as the psycho and genius characters because I think he’s not too far off that point himself. He’s got some strong demons that I think he needs to exorcise.

    But I love him. Seeing him “perform,” I’m always on the edge because I know he can take it to a point that makes me uncomfortable–like somehting grotesque but nonetheless, captivating.

  • Jake

    How can you not include Dead Poet’s Society?

  • Quinn

    I’ll be honest, I’m very disappointed Dead Poet’s Society is not on this list.

  • moe

    world’s greatest dad and insomnia are DESPERATELY needed on this list. the dude only does a good movie every 5 years so it shouldn’t be too hard to track his best roles lol

    and my final note…Patch Adams? really?…no really? go watch world’s greatest dad and update the list lol

  • Jim

    I agree that he is more interesting in the more dramatic roles, but please don’t compare him to british comedians. There are hardly any similarities.

  • JRod

    Take away Patch Adams and The Fisher King (Terry Gilliam is HORRIBLE!)

    Add Insomnia and Dead Poet’s Society.

    I really like World’s Greatest Dad, but it wasn’t one of his greatest performances.

    BTW, I know we are somewhat ignoring his funny roles, but Death To Smoochy and The Birdcage need more love.

  • Uhhhh, Mrs. Doubtfire?

    And One Hour Photo almost scarred me for life.

  • Steve

    When I first saw him in “Live on Broadway” (his stand up act from 2002), I nearly fell of my chair laughing when he made the joke about how Olestra causes anal leakage.

    “What’s the matter Bob?”

    “Oh, just a little anal leakage Ted.”

    “Bob you mind getting outta the pool right now?”

  • What about Final Cut. i like that movie and it was a serious role for him.

  • Eric Orion

    What Dreams May Come is my fave Williams movie. It was based on an even better book. It was simply inspiring.

  • megan

    I loved Robin Williams in The Birdcage. =D

  • Albert

    If you haven’t seen it, Moscow On The Hudson is a great film. Released in 1984 at the height of the Cold War, it showed the human side of the Soviet Union, at the same time lampooning the idiocy of both the Russian state machinery and the rampant consumerism in American society. One remarkable feature of the film (aside from Williams’ usual stellar performance – here as a Russian circus clown who defects in a Bloomingdale’s while touring New York with his troupe) is the first five minutes or so of footage, in which the actors – Williams included – speak nothing but Russian, with NO subtitles. Although the subject matter is a bit dated, it’s still a definite must-see for Robin Williams fans and Russian-Americans alike.

  • Ben

    Thank you posters for adding What Dreams May Come and Dead Poets Society to this list, however there are still a couple that I really feel should be included. Good Morning Vietnam and With Honors I think should definitely be included. Both were good roles for Williams. Actually, I feel With Honors was one of the most, heartfelt, dramatic movies with a good touch of comedy mixed in.

  • Shar

    British comedy is, in general, drier, far more sardonic, endlessly funniser and a lot more intelligent than most Americans can comprehend, which is why America has tried to remake so many great British shows and done such a crap job of it, so please, don’t compare Williams and his over the top nonsense to the Brits.

    And I can’t believe that you overlooked Insomnia and Dead Poet’s Society in favour of Patch Adams. Do you watch movies like, ever?

  • Reece

    “I really think it’s just over the top stuff that’s no different than what British people would do.”
    I’m not even reading the rest of this article after hearing that, go fuck yourself.

  • Straenge

    I have to also have to recommend “Moscow on the Hudson” as it was the first Robin Williams movie I watched that truly made me appreciate him as an actor. The grocery store scene alone makes you see him in a completely different light.