‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ Star Says Robin Williams Was the First Person She Could Talk to About Her Mental-Health Issues

Lisa Jakub talks about Williams’ openness about his mental health when she was a teenager dealing with her own internal struggle
‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ Star Says Robin Williams Was the First Person She Could Talk to About Her Mental-Health Issues

On the set of his 1993 mega-hit Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin Williams was much more than a divorced dad pretending to be a British nanny — he was also a father figure to a fellow actor trying to sort out her own mental-health struggles.

Ever since Williams took his own life in 2014 following a rapid cognitive decline due to Lewy body dementia, stories of his heart, wit and wisdom in the face of a lifetime of mental-health issues have painted the late, great actor and comedian as a tortured genius capable of profound empathy despite, or, perhaps, because of his immense suffering. Many of Williams’ friends, family members and colleagues have attempted to explain the complexities of his humanity to those who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing him, and, almost a decade after his death, Mrs. Doubtfire star Lisa Jakub is ready to share her own experiences with Williams as she explained how he impacted her own mental-health journey.

Jakub, who played Williams’ oldest daughter in the film, recently told Fox News Digital that her on-screen father was “probably one of the first people who ever really spoke to me super honestly about mental health.”

“He would talk to me about his struggles, and the things that he went through,” Jakub said of her time with Williams behind the scenes of Mrs. Doubtfire. “And it was the first time that I felt like, ‘Oh, I’m not a freak. I don’t have to hide this about myself. This is just something that some of us have to deal with.’” 

Jakub didn’t describe exactly what she was struggling with during her early teen years, only saying that the filming of Mrs. Doubtfire gave her the rare chance to connect with someone who understood it.

“Robin was everything you would hope Robin would be, and it’s so wonderful to think back on him now,” Jakub said of her memories from those impactful conversations on the set of Mrs. Doubtfire, adding that she is still “grateful that I got to be in his presence, that I got to be working with him, that he was so kind to me.”

She summed up her old co-star as “thoughtful and generous,” as demonstrated by his extensive work with military veterans throughout his career.

Today, Jakub is the director of a military nonprofit called Mission Flexible, which helps to provide treatment and wellness retreats to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Still, Jakub finds herself thinking about her acting career and her relationship with Williams, explaining, “Sometimes when we’re going through difficult times, it’s helpful to feel that kind of comfort.”


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