Sam Neill shared some stories about his time spent with the iconic late actor and comedian, Robin Williams, in his newly released memoir, Did I Ever Tell You This?.
Neill and Williams worked together for the 1999 film Bicentennial Man, where they took part in some “great chats” and where Neill discovered the incomparable funniness that was Robin Williams, calling him the “funniest” yet “saddest person I ever met.”
“We would talk about this and that, sometimes even about the work we were about to do,” Neill wrote, noting that Robin was “irresistibly, outrageously, irrepressibly, gigantically funny.”
“He had fame, he was rich, people loved him, great kids—the world was his oyster,” he continued. “And yet I felt more sorry for him than I can express. He was the loneliest man on a lonely planet.”
Sam remembers that under his famously goofy, fun-loving exterior, Robin seemed “inconsolably solitary, and deeply depressed.”
Like many who are suffering from severe depression, Robin wore a mask, a mask that Sam thought he could see through, saying he could “sense the dark space inside” but “as soon as he flung open the door, he was on.”
“Funny stuff just poured out of him. And everybody was in stitches, and when everybody was in stitches, you could see Robin was happy,” he added.
On August 11, 2014, at the age of 63, Robin died by suicide. On top of his fearsome depression, it was later discovered that the Insomnia actor had been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, which is unbearably awful news for anyone to handle.
His son, Zak Williams, had talked on The Dr. Oz Show about his father’s depression, saying, “[the depression] manifested in addiction at times, and [Robin] took great lengths to support his well-being and mental health, especially when he was challenged.”
Since his father’s tragic death, Zak has been a huge advocate for mental health, and even launched his own “mental hygiene” company, PYM, which supplies supplements that help deal with stressors that actively hinder mental health.
His company’s mission is to “provide safe, natural and effective mental hygiene products to promote self-care and end the stigma around mental health,” as well as being easily accessible.
“I never set out to be an advocate, but it just so happened I found that service was very healing for my trauma,” Zak told Forbes last August.
“Through my healing journey, I discovered that learning about the systems and interventions relating to mental health support became part of a deeper mission around finding ways to better be of service to causes relating to mental health,” he explained. “The way in which I celebrate my dad’s legacy is trying to be a good dad, trying to be kind and considerate when and where possible, and figuring out opportunities to best be of service.”