Remembering Our Friend, Robin Williams

 

By Stacey Longo

 

2014-08-12 13.00.09

The death of comedic genius Robin Williams hits especially hard, because he was a part of all of our lives. My parents’ generation remembers him getting his start as an alien on Mork & Mindy. Gen-Xers remember him as an inspirational teacher in Dead Poets Society, an inspirational therapist in Good Will Hunting, and an inspirational doctor in Patch Adams. For younger generations—for all of us—he will always be Aladdin’s genie. The loss of Robin Williams hurts as much as losing an old friend.

As children, my sister and I laughed right along with my parents at Mork & Mindy, though we didn’t always get the jokes. For us, the monumental moment when Robin Williams really became somebody in our minds was watching his poignant portrayal of the title character in The World According to Garp. Williams’s work in this film showcased his ability not only to be funny, but to be able to portray the struggles and achievements that we all face: hope, betrayal, loss, and redemption. His talent was limitless.

Robin Williams was so interwoven into our daily lives that it will take time to adjust to his absence. Besides his numerous film roles, he sometimes popped up on popular television shows like Saturday Night Live, Happy Days, The Larry Sanders Show, and Friends, among others. Imagine my delight when watching my favorite holiday special, A Wish For Wings That Work, and realizing the voice of the kiwi was someone very familiar to me. Robin Williams was like a well-worn blanket, something to wrap us in comfort on a rainy day.

His death, a suspected suicide, is unthinkable. How could this funnyman, who brought such joy to so many people, kill himself? For those who suffer from depression, it’s particularly hard: if Robin Williams couldn’t handle it, how can I? His drug problems were well documented—his cameo in Bob Woodward’s scandalous Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi was the first indication I saw, about 30 years ago. Williams also made no secret at his attempts, successes, and failures at sobriety, an open book for all to read. Those left behind have to wonder: how could someone so good at making us laugh be so unhappy inside?

It’s a question to which we will never have an answer. Though angry at his method of death, this is not how I choose to remember the beloved comedian. I’m sorry he was so miserable that he felt suicide was the best answer. But I am thankful for the sweet entertainment, the moving portrayals, and above all, the laughs he gave me while he lived.

As a blue genie once said, a woman appreciates a man who can make her laugh. And Robin Williams did that for me, countless times.

My Trip to Haddonfield

My Trip to Haddonfield

By Rob Watts

As a fan of many classic movies, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a great deal of filming locations to those films. As a child I got to swim at the beach from Jaws in Martha’s Vineyard. I had the pleasure of visiting The Amityville Horror house in Toms River, New Jersey. Heck, I live within ten minutes of various movie locations in Boston where such films as The Town, The Departed, and Good Will Hunting were filmed. My absolute favorite location visited however was South Pasadena, California where the majority of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN was filmed.

Rob Watts in front of The Wallace home where Laurie’s friend babysat. Photo by Shannon Watts.

Unlike a lot of filming locations, the neighborhood of South Pasadena was used primarily “as is.” There was very little film trickery involved as the town of “Haddonfield” had (has) a charm and beauty of its own that needed very little set dressing. Aside from bags of painted leaves being thrown around within frame to establish autumn in Illinois, very little else was manipulated. Upon first visit to the now iconic neighborhood, I was shocked to see just how much of it resembled that as it was in the film, even more than thirty years later.

The hardware store (as it is today). Photo by Shannon Watts.

You don’t have to travel far around town to see most of the locations either, as much of the daytime hours scenes were all filmed within streets of each other. For instance, the street where Laurie Strode is walking to school after dropping the keys off at the Myers house (Meridian Ave), leads directly to the hardware store that was broken into later in the day. Incidentally, the actual Myers house was moved and restored directly across the street from the hardware store (now a picture framing store) and is currently a doctor’s office located at 1000 Mission Street.

Rob Watts on the steps of the Myers House. Photo by Shannon Watts.

If you walk back down Meridian Ave., you will be walking in the direction of the streets where Laurie and her friends walked home from school. You’ll want to look for Magnolia Street, Montrose Ave., and Highland Street. These are the streets which were most visible throughout the first half of the movie. Probably the most iconic location from the film, and believe me it’s still there, is the famous hedge where Michael Myers hid behind as the girls approached him. It’s a little tricky to find at first because most houses on the street have similar hedges, but if you travel down Montrose Ave, going through Oxley Street, you will stumble upon the giant hedge. Just make sure no one is standing behind it waiting for you.

The babysitting scene street . N Orange Grove Ave
The babysitting scene street. N Orange Grove Ave. Photo by Shannon Watts.

The last half of the film, where the girls were babysitting, was oddly enough filmed on the corner of Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood. Although you’d never know it from watching the film, directly behind the camera crew was a bustling nightlife. It was a bit odd for me to look in the opposite direction of the street from the film and find a KFC and Blockbuster Video (because I’m sure Laurie Strode could have run in there for help if she really needed it.) But that was the genius of John Carpenter. He had a knack for taking a side street of Los Angeles’ most happening neighborhood and have it appear as a modest suburban town in the middle of America.

The street where Myers drove behind the girls. Photo by Shannon Watts.

The two houses where Jamie Lee Curtis’ character and her friend babysat are located at 1530 and 1537 North Orange Grove Street, off Sunset Blvd. The home where Laurie Strode babysat looks almost identical as it did in the movie. The house across the street has been updated a great deal over the years but still maintains some resemblance to how it did in the movie.

Rob Watts in front of the Doyle House (Jamie Lee’s). Photo by Shannon Watts.

So if you are ever in the West Hollywood or South Pasadena area of California and you love the original Halloweenthen it’s worth a venture around the filming locations of this incredible film. Just be respectful to the homeowners and respect their privacy. And for God sake, if you see a guy walking around in a rubber mask, RUN!

The creepy staircase in the Myers house. Photo by Shannon Watts.

Dane Cook Talks about His New Movie and His Inspirations

by Jason Harris

photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Actor and Comedian Dane Cook wanted to “share emotion and pain” he has experienced in his life in his new film, Answers to Nothing, which opened in theaters along with being available on video on demand this past Friday.

“With my comedy, I want to share my joy and positive experiences,” Cook said. “The main point of comedy though is people coming to laugh and enjoy themselves. What attracted me to this film is that I could relate to personal experiences in a different way. I can empathize with certain aspects of my character’s life.”

According to press materials, the film is “set against the backdrop of a missing girl case, lost souls throughout Los Angeles search for meaning and redemption and affect each other in ways they don’t always see. Ryan (Cook) and Kate (Elizabeth Mitchell) are in a strained marriage. They are trying to have a baby, but instead of bringing them closer together the difficulties are tearing them apart. Two strangers, sharing a home, they each lead private lives unbeknownst to each other. Ryan, grew up listening to the impossible romantic story of his grandparents’ courtship, but isn’t even sure he believes in love. He hates his mother for believing that his father is coming back, even though he left her 10 years ago, and he hates himself for following in his father’s steps of infidelity.”

Cook believes his character is “distancing himself from people and his emotions” even as his character is a confident therapist. He does believe his character is a “complex individual, but it is behavior we all do.”

“We show up every day to work and put on our game face, but people don’t know personal life circumstances,” Cook said.

As he filmed this movie, Cook didn’t want to let his fans down.

Being able to view his personal experiences in a different way attracted him to Answers to Nothing, Cook said. The film allowed him to tackle different philosophies, he said.

“You get to play pretend, but also share important moments in your own life.”

Actors are not always connected to their characters, Cook said.

“I understand some of the behaviors in feeling detached,” Cook said. “I lost both of my parents to cancer and when you experience something like that, you really hold onto those moments and hope you can grow from them … ”

The film, Mr. Brooks, led Cook to receive his role in his new film and his career grew from that, he said. Answers to Nothing director Matthew Leutwyler saw him in the film.

Cook made an audition tape for Mr. Brooks and received a call from Kevin Costner, who directed the film. Cook was told by Costner that was what they were looking for, he said.

There are people in Hollywood that Cook would love to work with.

Cook would love to work with Woody Allen, Jason Reitman, and Diablo Cody.

“I have met with Jason a few times and would love to play in his world,” Cook said.

He has met with Steven Spielberg, which he considers “one of the most poignant moments of his career.” Spielberg gave him some words of wisdom which has guided him in his life.

“I auditioned for [Spielberg] and got incredible feedback,” Cook said. “He is a big inspiration.”

He grew up loving comedic actors especially Gene Wilder.

“I really have a great respect for comedians that take on challenging roles, like Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple, Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting,” Cook said. “I know the pain that many comics have living within us. I love to see the way they can reach comedic audiences and then also [reach] those dramatic audiences and make them cry their eyes out.”

He thinks it’s great when a comedic performer can make people laugh and cry. He thinks “it’s magic” when that happens.

“I’d love to be able to do some of what I did in Answers to Nothing and some of what I did in My Best Friend’s Girl and create a character rich in all things good and bad that exist in us.”

Cook said if the role doesn’t come about, he may write it.

Cook has two independent films coming out next year that he hopes audiences will find. He is also working on a comedy for NBC for the 2012 television season. They are Detention and Guns, Girls, and Gambling. Detention is “a mash-up genre movie — it’s a horror, coming of age film” and Guns, Girls and Gambling stars Gary Oldman as an Elvis impersonator.

“I really look forward to people seeing that one,” Cook said about Guns, Girls and Gambling. It’s sort of a heist action film.”