Entertainment News

  • 12 August 2014, 3:53

Robin Williams' Career Haunted By Addiction

Robin Williams shot to fame in the 1970s - the same decade that addiction began to take a hold of his life.

The actor spoke in 2010 about how his substance abuse problems had started with alcohol.

"I was in a small town where it's not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought: drinking ... maybe drinking will help," he told The Guardian.

"And then the next thing you know, it's a problem, and you're isolated."

Williams' success in the US entered the stratosphere when he bagged a role as the alien in the TV hit MorkAnd Mindy alongside Pam Dawber.

The show's four-year run ended in 1982. In the same year he was among the last people to see John Belushi before the Saturday Night Live star died of a drug overdose.

It was that tragedy that prompted him to go cold turkey from both alcohol and cocaine - and he managed to stay clean for another 20 years.

In those sober decades, the Chicago-born funnyman was a workaholic and secured his place as a national hero.

He was best known for playing a string of zany characters on the silver screen - his breakthrough 1987 performance in Good Morning, Vietnam won him widespread plaudits topped off with an Academy Award nomination.

Further nominations came for his roles as a teacher in Dead Poets Society (1989) and a tramp in The Fisher King (1991).

He eventually won a best supporting actor Oscar for playing a psychologist opposite Matt Damon in the 1997 drama Good Will Hunting.

His booming voice earned him roles in animated films including Aladdin and Fern Gully in 1992, and he delighted children with his turn as a grown-up Peter Pan opposite Dustin Hoffman's Hook in the eponymous 1991 film.

One of his most famous characters, a cross-dressing estranged father in Mrs Doubtfire (1993), earned him one of his three Golden Globes and he was due to star in a sequel.

Williams would occasionally return to stand-up performing and to television, and his improvisational, quick-fire style was never more evident than in interviews. He made such an impression on US talk show king Johnny Carson that the host chose him as a guest on his last-ever show.

But he would also step into the darker and more versatile roles that he craved, playing a killer opposite Al Pacino in Insomnia in 2002, and a photo shop technician-turned-stalker in One Hour Photo in the same year.

In the years after those performances, for which he had received generally positive reviews, Williams revealed he had begun drinking again, blaming "anxiety".

He was open about his alcoholism, even joking about it in his stand-up acts, but he claimed cocaine had never returned to his life.

"Just alcohol, that's enough really," he told Good Morning America in 2006.

His return to the bottle in the 2000s coincided with the break-up of his second marriage and roles in some lesser-known films.

By July this year, Williams was back in rehab. His spokeswoman said he had been battling severe depression when he apparently committed suicide at home in Marin County, California, just a few weeks later.

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