Robin Williams’ emotional Oscars speech recalls an actor at the top of his game.
The comedian, who was found dead Monday after an apparent suicide by hanging, won the 1998 Academy Award for supporting actor for his role as mourning psychology teacher Sean Maguire, who treats math wunderkind Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon.
Williams thanked his costars and Oscar-winning writers Damon and Ben Affleck, director Gus Van Sant, producer Harvey Weinstein and his second wife, Marsha Garces, whom he divorced in 2008 before marrying Susan Schneider in 2011.
Other nominees in the category that year were Robert Forster for “Jackie Brown,” Anthony Hopkins for “Amistad,” Greg Kinnear for “As Good as It Gets” and Burt Reynolds for “Boogie Nights.”
Here’s a transcript of the heartfelt acceptance speech:
“Thank you! Oh, man, this might be the one time I’m speechless! Oh, thank you so much for this incredible honor. Thank you for putting me in a category with these four extraordinary men. Thank you Ben and Matt, I still wanna see some ID. Thank you, Gus Van Sant, for being so subtle you’re almost subliminal.
“I want to thank the cast and crew, especially the people of south Boston. You’re a can of corn, you’re the best. I want to thank the Mischpucka Weinstein. Mazel tov! And I want to thank Marsha for being the woman who lights my soul on fire every morning. God bless you.
“And most of all, I want to thank my father, up there,” he said, gesturing up. “The man who, when I said I want to be an actor, he said, ‘Wonderful, just have a back-up profession like welding.’ Thank you, God bless you!”
As Williams left the mike, host Billy Crystal went to congratulate him, and the actor was overcome with emotion and hugged the host. Then Williams traipsed across the stage showing off his new golden statue.
The tributes came rolling in soon after news of Williams’ passing broke Monday afternoon.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences posted a photo from Disney’s animated feature “Aladdin” showing of the 1992 film’s closing scenes, in which the titular character hugs the fun-loving Genie, voiced by Williams.
“Genie, you’re free,” the caption read.
Affleck posted his tribute on Facebook.
“Heartbroken,” the actor-director-producer wrote. “Thanks chief - for your friendship and for what you gave the world. Robin had a ton of love in him. He personally did so much for so many people. He made Matt and my dreams come true. What do you owe a guy who does that? Everything. May you find peace my friend. #RobinWilliams”
Damon released a statement Tuesday through his publicist.
“Robin brought so much joy into my life and I will carry that joy with me forever. He was such a beautiful man. I was lucky to know him and I will never, ever forget him,” the actor said. “I truly hope the people in the media can find it within themselves to give his family some privacy during this horrible time.”
In Boston, where the Oscar-winning 1997 film was set, fans turned the Boston Public Garden bench where Williams and Damon had a memorable scene into a makeshift memorial.
The quote “Sorry guys, I went to see about a girl” was written in chalk in front of the bench along with a drawing of shoe prints. It was followed by the words “‘Your move chief’ -RW.”
Williams’ fans congregated there as mourners brought flowers and wrote inscriptions on the pavement to honor the late actor with movie quotes and titles.
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