Played by Robin Williams in the 1993 comedy of the same name, Mrs. Doubtfire is the brainchild of Daniel Hillard, a newly divorced dad on the losing end of a custody battle who is desperate to be with his kids at any cost. When ex-wife Miranda tells him she’s placing an ad for a nanny, Hillard uses his talent for impersonations and the skills of his makeup artist brother to fill the position.
Hillard is not well suited for the corporate world. From the opening scene, in which he walks out on his voiceover gig because the character he’s playing (an animated bird reminiscent of Tweety) is smoking a cigarette, it is clear that Hillard is his own man. However, does he have what it takes to make it in the sometimes lonely, sometimes risky, potentially rewarding world of entrepreneurship?
On one hand, Hillard earns major points for ingenuity — disguising himself as an English governess is certainly thinking outside of the box and gets him what he wants, if only for a time. On the other hand, a successful entrepreneur must also have endurance, and Hillard’s tendency to overextend himself may lead to burnout.
In one memorable scene, he accepts two dinner invitations to the same restaurant — one as himself and the other as Doubtfire — and spends the evening dashing to and from the bathroom for frenzied costume changes, demonstrating the hazards of biting off more than you can chew. Not only does he jeopardize his chances of career advancement by mistakenly using the wrong persona (Doubtfire) with the wrong party (his boss), his entire scheme unravels in the most public and dramatic fashion: While performing the Heimlich maneuver on Miranda’s choking beau, a wild and sweaty Doubtfire loses her prosthetic mask, revealing her true identity to a horrified audience.
In typical Hollywood fashion, everything wraps up nicely for Hillard; but in the real world, he would not be so lucky. Instead, he would likely follow the path of most entrepreneurs: a career of ups and downs. In cases like this, where the highs are high and the lows are low, the true measure of success would be found in Hillard’s ability to pick himself up and begin the cycle again.
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