Eyes are a mystery. You might curse, you might behave badly, you might burst out your anger. But the eyes sometimes tell the opposite of what you are showing with your voice and your gestures. There are not many actors who can speak with their eyes and those who can are often credited as the greats. Robin Williams was one of them.
These pictures are from Moscow on the Hudson and Good Morning, Vietnam. Robin Williams is one of the comedian-turned-dramatic-actors(not quite true though, since Robin started out as an actor but got his first performing job as a comedian), and his dramatic chops got better as he aged. In his movies made in the 90s, there is always a glimpse of the real Robin Williams – his unique mannerisms in terms of his gestures and voice. I’m not saying this fact interrupts him from creating another unique character. It’s the opposite. He does this successfully not by doing voices or accents which he does well, but with his incredible flexibility of using these unique traces of himself to building up humanness in every character he plays. This acts like a grid to his roles. Then, he vitalizes his character by pouring the soul into the grid. To achieve this, he uses many techniques; silence, improvisation, inventive body gestures, careful line delivery, and eye contact. His eyes spill out the emotions. In the pictures above, his eyes say something more than what he says out loud. They show how much Robin’s character(or even himself) wants to understand the listener. They show generosity, warmth, kindness, and availability for others. Availability of acceptance. Understanding. They don’t seem to speak desire, or selfishness. Desire might be the base of his character’s emotions and behaviors, but it’s the last in the priority. And how rarely he gives this look makes it more genuine.