Welcome to a new series here on Cinematical where we select an actor or actress and the role we think is their all time best.
There is a widely believed theory that says anytime Robin Williams grows a beard for a film, that film will be good. Or, at least his performance will be. The idea is mostly accepted on the evidence of Williams' terrific dramatic appearances in Moscow on the Hudson, Awakenings, The Fisher King and Good Will Hunting, for which he won an Oscar. But many people like to argue against the theory because the actor shows up bearded in Jumanji, which isn't quite on the level of Williams' best work. Also, the theory holds little weight when we look at all his excellent clean-shaven turns, such as those in One Hour Photo, Good Morning Vietnam, Insomnia, Dead Poets Society, The World According to Garp and, yes, Popeye.
My belief is that the only way to classify Williams' roles and films is to look at the actual performances. Crazy, right? Well, a lot of us like to attempt to create rules for looking at Hollywood careers, and it's more fun to think there's really a beard law when it comes to Williams, or that we can easily presume he's past his prime and will only make broad, lowbrow junk like RV and License to Wed from now on. His most recent movie, Old Dogs, doesn't offer a lot of hope against that presumption, either.
Yet Williams continues to make appearances, whether leading or supporting, in smaller, more interesting films, such as Bobcat Goldthwaite's World's Greatest Dad (which grossed only 0.1% of the current combined take of Williams' two major 2009 releases, Old Dogs and Night at the Museum). And it's choices like these that remind me of Williams' best role and performance: as Parry in Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King.