“Mork calling Orson, come in, Orson…”
This is the familiar line, spoken in a familiar rapid fire cadence, that opens the five minute short form project Robin, just recently posted to the Jaime Costa YouTube channel. The short, which is about five minutes long and labeled as “ROBIN Test Footage Scene”, features Costa as Williams in 1982, receiving news on the set of Gary Marshall’s sitcom Mork & Mindy, from co-star Pam Dawber (Sarah Murphree), about the death of John Belushi.
Costa, a small scale actor and voice actor who appeared on season 10 of America’s Got Talent, has a steady and large following of roughly 130,000 followers on YouTube. No stranger to small indy projects made with love, he has participated in several fan films in franchises such as Star Wars and Jurassic Park.
The video in and of itself is absolutely heart wrenching in its performances alone. Costa, who is well known for his Robin Williams impressions, literally becomes Williams with a perfection that is both chilling and comforting. Watching him run lines in the mirror dispels reality for a few precious seconds before one can register what they’re seeing…and just like that, Robin is alive and well, filling the world with his frenetic energy and glowing charm. Even when the illusion shatters and the reality rushes back – that this is a performance, that the man is still gone – Costa’s experience as an impressionist allows him to capture all of the essential beats, mannerisms, and body language that wraps him in the very soul of Robin Williams.
Sarah Murphree is equally captivating as Robin’s friend and co-star, meshing easily with Costa’s portrayal to present a very real and genuine chemistry of friendship and camaraderie that adds to the pathos of this scene. Her gentle, steady handling of a broken man receiving devastating news speaks to the intimacy of their bond, and the quietly vicious threat of bodily harm should Williams follow Belushi is raw enough to be vaguely chilling. Her quiet and subtle implication to Belushi’s drug overdose, which caused his death, is delivered with gentle, firm, and grim finality, alluding to Robin’s own drug problems at the time. She is the compassionate, steady presence to Costa’s unhinged energy, even in his moments of sobriety and grief, her own sorrow and love a warmth on screen to the chill of Robin’s isolated, repressed emotional suffering.
Williams came to national recognition in 1978 as the title alien in the Happy Days spinoff scifi romance sitcom, Mork & Mindy. Portraying Mork from Ork, a manic but lovable humanoid alien with boundless curiosity and affection for the universe around him, the role soon led him to his first starring film role in the live action Popeye. Williams, whose struggles with drugs and mental health issues were well documented, passed away by suicide in 2014. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he was later revealed to be suffering from Lewy body dementia, a debilitating and terminal condition that causes hallucinations and can often be misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. His problems with cocaine addiction were fairly public knowledge, and it was the death of Belushi at the Chateau Marmont due to cocaine and heroin that compelled Williams to get clean the first time, alongside the birth of his son.
Since the short has appeared online, YouTube commenters have been going wild for it, clamoring for a real life biopic with Jamie Costa in the lead. This appears to be precisely what Costa was going for – if not to promote himself as a potential lead, then to simply campaign for the development of such a feature film. Many have praised Costa’s fleeting resurrection of the essence of Williams on screen and for a touching tribute to Robin’s brilliance, while others have pegged this in somewhat cynical fashion as a publicity stunt.
Either way, folks are talking about Robin Williams again – and for five minutes, Jamie Costa has restored a little light to the world with this fresh glimpse of the performer that so many fans miss so terribly.
Robin, we miss you. Jamie, we thank you – and in reverse aging Orkin fashion, we hope you live to a ripe, old, absolutely adorable age.
Liz Carlie, the Mad Woman with a Box, a regular book reviewer for SCIFI.radio and a regular guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. She has been in and around science fiction fandom for years, and works with the American Red Cross on blood drives at science fiction conventions all over Southern California.