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Valley native Chris Columbus speaks about life with Robin Williams

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Staff report


Film director Chris Columbus, who grew up in Champion, first got to know Robin Williams when he worked with the actor on the smash 1993 film “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

The two became friends, and Williams’ tragic death Monday left Columbus brokenhearted.

“The world was a better place with Robin in it,” said the Warren JFK High School and New York University graduate in a statement. “And his beautiful legacy will live on forever.”

Columbus also directed Williams in the 1999 film “Bicentennial Man” and appreciated his creativity and screen presence.

“We have lost one of our most inspired and gifted comic minds, as well as one of this generation’s greatest actors,” Columbus said in his statement. “To watch Robin work was a magical and special privilege. His performances were unlike anything any of us had ever seen, they came from some spiritual and otherworldly place. He truly was one of the few people who deserved the title of ‘genius.’

Columbus’ personal life was also influenced by Williams, who committed suicide.

“We were friends for 21 years,” the director wrote. “Our children grew up together. He inspired us to spend our lives in San Francisco, and I loved him like a brother.”

Columbus was set to direct Williams again in a sequel to “Mrs. Doubtfire” that was being developed by Fox 2000. Williams was to reprise his role as the title character — a father who disguises himself as an elderly housekeeper in order to spend more time with his kids.

But Williams’ death will likely mean the sequel will be scrapped, according to Hollywood website

Another “Mrs. Doubtfire” — which earned more than $400 million worldwide — could still be possible as a film reboot without the original cast, according to Variety. Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan also starred in the film.

Columbus was born in Spangler, Pa., but raised in Champion. His directorial credits also include “Home Alone” (1990) and “Home Alone 2” (1992), “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001), “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002), and “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” (2010).