Robin Williams’ Celebrity Struggles: A Discussion with Dave Itzkoff by Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast (ep. 31)

New York Times cul­ture reporter Dave Itzkoff joins your hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an Hirt to con­sid­er issues raised by Dav­e’s 2018 biog­ra­phy Robin: How do we make sense of our strange rela­tion to celebri­ties, and what are strate­gies that celebri­ties use to deal with their asym­met­ric rela­tion­ship to the world? While Robin Williams tried, in grat­i­tude, to share him­self with his fans, and was very anx­ious about let­ting us all down when some of his lat­er work did­n’t gar­ner the wide­spread praise he was used to, some­one like Joaquin Phoenix takes a much more seem­ing­ly detached atti­tude, keen­ly aware of the absur­di­ty of the celebri­ty-audi­ence rela­tion.

We also talk to Dave about inter­view tech­nique and the dif­fer­ent atti­tudes that his sub­jects take toward him. Can an inter­view be some­thing that has intrin­sic val­ue and not just par­a­sitic on pop­u­lar media?

For more about Robin, Dave par­tic­i­pat­ed in a recent pod­cast called Know­ing: Robin Williams, which was cre­at­ed in part to sup­port Dav­e’s book (which some of us read for this episode; it’s real­ly good). HBO also recent­ly released the doc­u­men­tary Come Inside My Mind that relates much of the same sto­ry.

For more on Joaquin Phoenix, read Dav­e’s inter­view, this 2017 Times arti­cle by Bret Eas­t­on Ellis, or this Guardian arti­cle on I’m Still Here.

Read Dav­e’s inter­views at or fol­low him @ditzkoff.

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can only hear by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.