The Surprising Inspiration for Mrs. Doubtfire

It’s always interesting to find out where the inspiration for iconic movie characters came from, especially when they’re brought to life in such a way that one can’t help but pay attention to them. Euphegenia Doubtfire, the character that Robin Williams took on in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, did have a real-life counterpart by the name of Annabella Coutts, and she was a Scottish shopkeeper that actually had the moniker ‘Madame Doubtfire’ hung above her shop. Her husband was Arthur Cyril Doubtfire, who died in WWI. The lady was said to be every bit as eccentric as Williams was, but it’s also believed that Williams took things so far over the top that he managed to one-up the real-life Mrs. Doubtfire in a big way. It’s not too hard to believe really since Williams still is considered to be one of those who took things to such an extreme that it might have actually offended people at one point. But his acting abilities and his comedy were both so popular that trying to call him out on the type of humor he was trying to push was considered bad form and even worse, showed that the critics had no sense of humor.

The truth behind Mrs. Doubtfire is that of course, in real life a man like Daniel Hillard would be vilified and given the recommendation to seek psychiatric help no matter how good his intentions were. But the point here is that the movie was satire, it was meant to be fun, and as disturbing as the material might have been to some folks, they’re not ‘woke’ for pointing out the glaring inaccuracies since, in all honesty, humor is one of the things that would be missed if it wasn’t so prevalent in the world. Much like hopes and dreams, humor is a very ethereal thing that is able to be given form and a definite sense of function since, without it, life becomes a little bleaker.

The author of the book that was adapted into the movie, Anne Fine, only took issue with the fact that the divorce and fallout were taken in such a light-hearted manner, but she did enjoy Robin Williams’ contribution to the story. In response to that, however, it does feel that keeping a lighter tone to the story made the humor a little more possible and probably kept it from being the type of dark humor that wouldn’t have really made it for children. This was a family movie that did take the divorce seriously no matter how it looked and at the same time injected just enough humor into the idea to keep the painful sting from settling in too deep. When any person that’s been through a divorce, as a parent or as a child, takes a look at this, they’ll hopefully feel that, beyond Daniel’s obviously manic attempts to see his kids, that Mrs. Doubtfire did a great job in showing and telling kids that no matter if their parent’s divorce, it’s not their fault and their parents don’t feel any differently toward them. It’s a way to tell the kids that the divorce is not their fault and that as hectic and maddening as things might get, their parents still love them, and are there for them. That’s a point that Robin Williams and Sally Field did quite well in portraying since there was a great deal of humor, but the dramatic aspect of the movie was great as well.

The fact that this character was derived from a real person is rather interesting, and that the real person was an intriguing individual is even better. One has to wonder how much Robin Williams looked into this person to see how he should play the character, and how much was just his own exuberant nature. The latter is definitely easy to believe since Williams was the type of comedian that went over the top on a routine basis since people had become used to his act in such a way that it lifted and inspired many, and made many others laugh uproariously, which was the intended result to be fair. But his dramatic turns were just as inspiring since Williams could turn it on and off like a faucet at times, or at least it appeared that way.

Learning more about our favorite movies and characters is usually a lot of fun since it gives people a greater insight into the manner in which the movie and the characters were created. Coming to find out that there was a real-life Mrs. Doubtfire is something that many might actually laugh off until they find out the truth of it. Entertainment draws a lot from real life as some people already know, but it’s a lesson that never gets old when it’s taught time and again.

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