When Robin Williams sat down on Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton—voted the best episode ever by fans—he left his mark on the crowd and viewers immediately. Before James Lipton could even ask a question, Williams was doing what he did best: hilarious, impassioned impressions—delivered back-to-back over six sustained minutes—that left the crowd in stitches.
With the news of Williams' tragic suicide Monday, James Lipton is speaking out about that indelible moment on IAS—and reflecting on what made the comic one of Hollywood's greats.
"His gift was the most mysterious of all gifts," Lipton told Matt Lauer on the TODAY show Tuesday. "Geniuses can do things that we learn how to do...It's in their DNA. It's in their bones. They're born with it. You can teach craft....you can't teach genius."
Lipton went on to remember those first few minutes with Williams on IAS. "I introduced him and....the bedlam! Then he took off! It was six minutes before I could ask the first question. I finally raised my hand, 'Can I ask a question [now]?'"
Lipton also reflected on Williams' undeniable talent, saying, "Great comedians have to be great actors. And what does an actor do? He reaches deep inside his soul...and brings out something deeply mysterious, a total surprise. He could do that. He could do that as a comedian. He could do that as an actor. And when he reaches out and brings that out it's unique. It's something we've never seen before."
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).