Robin Williams Talks Playing Gay Man Grappling With Sexuality in One of His Final Films, Boulevard: "It Was Powerful to Do"
While he was often celebrated for his funny, heartwarming roles in comedies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji, the late Robin Williams wasn’t shy when tackling more emotionally challenging characters. In fact, in 1998 he won his sole Oscar for his portrayal of the embittered psychiatrist Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting.
Indeed, one of his final roles brings to life a man searching for meaning. In Boulevard, Williams played Nolan Mack, a married man stuck in a rut with wife Joy (Kathy Baker), who realizes he’s gay and seeks the company of a male prostitute as he struggles to come to terms with his own sexuality.
Us Weekly spoke to Williams in July 2013 about the film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2014. At the time, he was working on the short-lived CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones, but admitted to gravitating toward independent films.
“Why? Because they’re great stories,” he explained to Us. “[Boulevard]’s a very beautiful and sad movie about this guy who falls in love with a gay prostitute, basically comes out. He’s married, and he has to come out to his wife and he’s not fulfilled on that level. It was powerful to do.”
The film premiered at the festival to positive reviews, but does not currently have a distribution deal.
After its Tribeca screening, Variety critic Peter Debruge wrote, “By now, Williams is such a pro at playing forlorn souls saddled with heavy baggage, [director] Monteil doesn’t even need to show said baggage via flashback.”
Prior to his death, Williams received praise from his costars, including his on-screen wife Baker, who told Red Carpet Diary, “He’s incredible. He is one of the most generous and patient and focused actors I’ve ever worked with.”
Williams committed suicide at the age of 63 on Monday, Aug. 11 after lifelong struggles with depression and addiction. Following his death, the actor’s wife Susan Schneider revealed he had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Other posthumous Williams films include The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, A Merry Friggin’ Christmas, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and Absolutely Anything.