Following news that Robin Williams died at age 63, comedian Marc Maron has dusted off an old interview he did with the legendary comic and actor for a 2010 installment of his WTF podcast. "That conversation is what defined this show from that point on and what defined my life in a lot of ways," Maron says in a new intro he recorded for the episode, which has been behind a paywall for years. "It seemed to be that he was ready to talk for almost the first time in his life in a way that he'd never talked publicly before. And I was happy to be there for it."
Williams, who died on Monday of an apparent suicide, was one of the first high-profile guests to appear on WTF—back in April 2010, Maron's twice-weekly program was less than a year old and not yet the juggernaut it has since become. Even now, the nearly hour-long conversation between the two comedians still stands as one of the most powerful interviews in the WTF library. Williams discussed his decades-long career, as well as his battles with depression and addicition, with remarkable candor, offering a surprising level of intimacy and focus. "It changed my life," Maron says of the interview. "And it changed many people's perception of Robin Williams."
How are ya folks? I just made myself a cup of coffee. And, as most of you know, Robin Williams is dead from an apparent suicide, and I wanted to repost this episode because this episode, you know it... it changed my life, and it changed many people's perception of Robin Williams. And I want to tell you right out of the gate that it is delicate in it that he does discuss his battle with drugs and alcohol. He does talk about his depression. He talks about his heart attack. He talks about his career. And he talks about a lot of things. And he talks about it in a way that most people had never heard him talk about anything—and I certainly haven't.
Depression is real. I don't have any details. I don't know what happened. I can't make a comment. I was never in his inner circle. But I do feel the loss, and I do know what depression is, and I do know from talking to him personally that this was something he struggled with. And having talked to many comedians and many artists, this is something a lot of people struggle with. Having a father that struggles with it, it's… it's a horrible thing. But I mean, we have to remember that Robin Williams is really one of the greatest comedians ever, ever, ever in the history of the world as far as I know it, because he had all of the things that was necessary to be a great comedic artist.
He was sensitive. He was perceptive. He was empathetic. His mental agility was astounding. He was full of love. And he, by nature of putting all those out into the world, required that of us. And we felt it. And there was a humanity to Robin Williams. Robin Williams changed everything. There's nobody that wasn't touched by Robin Williams at some point. He was the king. The spirit of pure comedy ran through this guy. He was unto himself—there was nobody else like this guy. Nobody else like him, ever.
And as a comic, despite what any other comic say, or whatever your judgment of him as a comedian, he did it all. He did everything that all of us wanted to do. And he did it brilliantly. There's never been a comedic artist like this guy. And there's no more a painful realization that the other side of whatever comic genius is, is sometimes this. That with that sensitivity, that with that perception, that with that empathy, that with that love, that with that mental agility, comes a heart too heavy to live. A heart that becomes so heavy that it chooses not to go on, for whatever reason. I don't know his reasons. It's horribly sad. And it's a horrible illness, depression. But on a personal level, when Robin Williams invited me to his home in 2010, that conversation is what defined this show from that point on, and what defined my life in a lot of ways.
I had known him a little bit in passing and he was always… it was amazing about Robin Williams is that he was this sort of electric, shining piece of humanity whose entire life on stage was to entertain thoroughly and with a type of presence that nobody has ever seen before. There's nobody that wasn't touched by it. And when you met him personally, he was almost shy and he was very warm. You just felt like he really cared about how you were doing, what was going on with you. He was very sweet. But he was ready to talk. It seemed to be that he was ready to talk for almost the first time in his life in a way that he'd never talked publicly before. And I was happy to be there for it. I just… I learned something. I learned something about him by learning something about being there for other people.
You know, to... to sit there with this guy, this guy that was his own momentum, to sit there with this guy that was known to not sit still, that was known to depart on riffs that almost essentially enabled him to avoid himself in a lot of ways, and to have him as present as he was, it wasn't daunting at all. It was an honor. It was my pleasure and completely surprising and filled with humility.
He was a person with his own problems that he carried with him, and I think part of his genius came from the struggle with those problems. And obviously… he's too young, you know? It's so sad.
The world is going to miss Robin Williams. The world is going to feel his absence. Certainly right now, but moving forward as well. You'll see. Just like how he stuck with you whenever he hit your brain and built a home in it. That you could always sort of go back to. This to us will do the same thing. It's a very sad day. But I'm happy I have this conversation to share with you. This is my talk with Robin Williams from April 2010.