[FOUNTAIN]The power of friendshipHollywood actor Robin Williams is known to have a “thousand voices.” In the movie “Hook,” he played Peter Pan with a young boy’s voice and in “Aladdin,” he voiced the “Genie” of the lamp in a young woman’s voice. In “Mrs.Doubtfire,” he was able to reproduce old British ladies coy ways of speech amazingly. Furthermore, in the movie “Bicentennial Man,” his was the voice of a robot. His skill in imitating various voices and expressions makes one forget about any differences of sex and age.
There is a sad story behind how Mr. Williams became so talented at different voices. He was overweight during his childhood. Kids his age made fun of him and no one would play with him. Moreover, he was also lonely at home because of being an only child. So he used to make up imaginary friends and create their voices by himself. This later became the base for his voice acting. Was he lonely with just imaginary friends? Or did he long for a real friend? In his early twenties, during his days at the Juilliard School studying drama, he and Christopher Reeve were roommates. The two shared a long friendship that was so sincere they were known as “soul mates.”
Mr. Reeve, who became famous as “Superman,” was paralyzed from the neck down due to a horse-riding accident in 1995, at the age of 43. When he first lost his laughter in the face of his tragedy, a man came to visit him in hospital. The man, in a funny yellow gown, a surgeon’s cap and mask, came into the ward and talked nonsense in a Russian accent. Mr. Reeve laughed for the first time since the accident because the man’s appearance and words were so funny. That moment, the man took off his mask and revealed his face. It was Mr. Williams. To bring laughter to his friend at a difficult time, he practiced all night to perform for just one person. Mr. Reeve later recalled this moment and said, “When seeing my friend, who put a lot of effort in trying to make me laugh, I felt my life will go well.”
However, Mr. Reeve died in October 2004 and his wife Dana Reeve followed him on March 6 this year due to lung cancer. Their thirteen-year-old son, Will, became an orphan whom Mr. Williams is now taking care of.
Mr. Williams, who has been married twice, has a twenty-year-old son from his former marriage and a seventeen-year-old daughter and fourteen-year-old son with his current wife. Money isn’t a big deal for him but it can’t have been easy for someone to decide to raise someone else’s child. But the power of friendship is strong. An American Indian proverb says, “Friends are those who carry my sorrow on their back.”
by Chae In-taek
The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.