The world was rocked to its core six years ago at the news of Robin Williams (Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire)’s death and now filmmaker Tylor Norwood seeks to find the answers from the iconic comedian’s final days in the documentary Robin’s Wish.
For the first time, Robin’s fight against a deadly neurodegenerative disorder, known as Lewy Body Dementia, is shown in stunning detail. Through a gripping journalistic lens, this incredible story sheds an entirely new light on the tragedy, beauty and power behind the mind of one of the greatest entertainers of all time.
“When my husband Robin Williams died, the whole world grieved,” Susan Schneider Williams, Robin’s widow, said in a statement. “During the last year of his life, Robin was confronted with anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, scary altered realities and a roller coaster of hope and despair. With our medical team’s care we chased a relentless parade of symptoms but with very little gain. It wasn’t until after Robin’s passing, in autopsy, that the source of his terror was revealed: he had diffuse Lewy body disease. It was one of the worst cases medical professionals had seen.
“Armed with the name of a brain disease I’d never heard of, I set out on a mission to understand it, and that led me down my unchosen path of advocacy, Schneider Williams continued. “With invaluable help from leading medical experts, I saw that what Robin and I had gone through, finally made sense — our experience matched up with the science. And what I discovered along the way was bigger than me, and bigger than Robin. The full story was revealed during the making of this film and it holds the truth that Robin and I had been searching for. Robin’s Wish is Robin’s story, it’s our story, and in some ways it’s a universal one — as we all understand what it means to search for answers, to experience love and loss and the power of healing that keeps us going. Finally, a note about the film title: Robin wanted to help all of us be less afraid. That was Robin’s wish. We had been discussing what we wanted our legacies to be in life; when it was our time to go, how we wanted to have made people feel. Without missing a beat, Robin said, ‘I want to help people be less afraid.’”
The documentary is set to feature interviews with Schneider Williams as well as a number of former collaborators and friends of Williams including Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum franchise), John R. Montgomery (The Crazy Ones), Rick Overton (Mrs. Doubtfire) and David E. Kelley (The Crazy Ones).
“Robin’s Wish is the retelling of an ending to a story that was never done the justice it deserved,” director Tylor Norwood said in a statement. “Robin Williams was very much an influence on my life and so when he passed with such violence and general uncertainty it affected me deeply. However, like most people, I quickly buried that uncertainty as I went about my life, too busy with my day to day affairs to treat the questions around Robin’s passing as much more than a place I’d rather not go — telling myself instead that I would remember him only as the man who made me laugh and feel so much in my life. This process of denial of Robin as a man instead of a string of characters was interrupted when his widow, Susan, reached out to me to ask if I’d have any interest in making a science documentary about a neurological disease I’d never heard of — Lewy body dementia. I told her no, and that it would take years until we’d be sitting in a theater and watching any movie I agreed to make, so I asked her what would sustain her in that. She began telling me about herself and Robin, and what they went through in the last year and a half of his life. I told her if that was the film, I was in.
“What followed was years of tracking down the facts of Robin’s case from his friends, neighbors, co-workers, widow and medical professionals that gave me a clear view of a compelling story I’d never heard before about one of the greatest entertainers to ever live,” Norwood continued. “In the end I think we’ve done the work of restoring a legacy that had been tainted by a fundamental misunderstanding. It was in the spirit of completing the record, and honoring Robin with giving the world the truth of what took him from us that I think this film shines, and can serve as a moment for the world to look deeper into this beautiful man’s story. It is a moment for us to understand the pain he felt as his talents and faculties rapidly slipped away, and moreover how in the face of that terrifying reality, he was more heroic, more compassionate than any character he ever played in any of his movies. So I hope this film rights a wrong that was done to him, and takes away a cloud that has unjustly hung over his legacy for far too long.”
Robin’s Wish is set to hit digital platforms and VOD on September 1.