Saturday, August 16, 2014

My hero / Robin Williams by Anne Fine

My hero: 

Robin Williams by Anne Fine

The author of Madame Doubtfire remembers 'a hypnotising whirlwind of manic energy'

Anne Finne
16 August 2014

uthors so often find films of their books a mixed blessing. My novel Madame Doubtfire had been under option for more than 10 years when Robin Williams finally closed the deal. I heard on the grapevine that a child's easy access to the noncustodial parent was an issue close to his heart. He certainly put a vast amount of feeling and energy into the film.

Children of separation and divorce find it easy to identify with the three youngsters on screen. My guess is that that's a large part of why the film became such a family favourite. So often over the last 20 years I've been told that Mrs Doubtfire is the film someone watched a thousand times for comfort throughout childhood.
Williams's performance is a hypnotising whirlwind of manic energy. But that was the man. Once I was asked to join him on Michael Parkinson's chatshow. I did explain, with some relief, that I'd been booked for almost a year to give a talk that night to 200 librarians, so couldn't go. But I reached home in time to watch the programme. There Williams sat, so wired with energy he'd almost levitated from the sofa. He talked in such a blue streak that Parkinson could scarcely get a word in. If I'd been there, I would have sat like a stuffed pudding, saying nothing, idiotic with laughter. I was glad to be so far from all the hype and fuss.

I owe the man the most tremendous debt. Because of Mrs Doubtfire's success, my novel – and plenty of others I've written – can now be read in more than 40 languages. The film paid off my mortgage, and gave me the freedom to write what I want at my own speed. But I still avoid watching Mrs Doubtfire. Too much of what I put such effort into writing was junked or twisted round to make it work on screen. But everyone knows that the author is the last person who should be asked to judge an adaptation.
It's such a tragedy that someone who lifted other people's spirits so successfully, and gave so much pleasure, should lose his own hopes in the way Williams clearly did.


001 My hero / Oscar Wilde by Michael Holroyd
002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler 
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser

007 My hero / Ernest Shepard by Richard Holmes
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self
009 My hero / Alan Ross by William Boyd
010 My hero / Ben the labrador by John Banville

011 My hero / Vicent van Gogh by Margaret Drabble
012 My hero / Franz Marek by Eric Hobsbawm


017 My hero / Jack Yeats by Colm Tóibín
018 My hero / Francisco Goya by Diana Athill
019 My hero / Max Stafford-Clark by Sebastian Barry
020 My hero / Arthur Holmes by Richard Fortey

036 My hero / Robert Lowell by Jonathan Raban
037 My hero / Beryl Bainbridge by Michael Holroyd
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan
039 My hero / Oliver Knussen by Adam Foulds
040 My hero / Annie Proulx by Alan Warner

041 My hero / David Lynch by Paul Murray
042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford
043 My hero / Anne Lister by Emma Donoghue
044 My hero / Jane Helen Harrinson by Mary Beard
045 My hero / Edmund Burke by David Marquand
046 My hero / Shelagh Deleaney by Jeanette Winterson
047 My hero / Christopher Marlowe by Val McDermid
048 My hero / Gwen John by Anne Enright
049 My hero / Michael Mayne by Susan Hill
050 My hero / Stanley Spencer by Howard Jacobson

051 My hero / William Beveridge by Will Hutton
052 My hero / Jean McConville by Amanda Foreman
053 My hero / Alexander Pushkin by Elaine Feinstein
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal

079 My hero / Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
096 My hero / Isaac Babel by AD Miller
097 Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan
100 Thomas Tranströmer by Robin Robertson
102 My hero / David Hockney by Susan Hill


190 My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer


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