The film was one of the star's last projects before he committed suicide in August

By Sara Hammel
Updated December 12, 2014 11:40 AM
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Credit: Robert Pitts /Landov; Jason Merritt/Getty

It was one of the late Robin Williams‘s last completed films, and friends and castmates took time to remember him fondly at Thursday’s New York premiere of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

The beloved actor’s wife, Susan Schneider, attended the event looking composed and at ease. She made an appearance at the afterparty at the American Museum of Natural History, taking the time to mingle and connect with filmmakers and her late husband’s costars.

There were a lot of memories and tributes shared, but not a lot of melancholy. The film’s star, Ben Stiller, whose actress wife Christine Taylor accompanied him, told PEOPLE that Williams, who committed suicide in August, is “a huge part of Night at the Museum movies.”

“I remember when the first movie happened and Shawn [Levy, the director] said he wanted to ask Robin to play Teddy Roosevelt and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the most brilliant idea in the world,’ ” Stiller said. “We can’t do the movie if he doesn’t say yes.”

Stiller added with a chuckle that had Williams been at the premiere, “I think he’d be making everyone laugh a lot more than I am.”

Funnyman Ricky Gervais (who plays Stiller’s boss in the film) turned serious for just a moment, calling the event “a really good way” to honor Williams and his work. “It’s very, very sad,” Gervais said. “He was amazing performer – an icon before I met him, then a friend.”

Meanwhile, director Shawn Levy said that he wished Williams could have seen the finished film, but added he was “excited for people to celebrate this guy and this amazing performance.”

Young actor Skyler Gisondo, who plays Ben Stiller’s character’s son in the film, became friends with Williams during filming, and he looks back fondly at the connection they made.

“He was one of the kindest, most humble, funniest guys you could have the privilege of knowing, and I feel so lucky to be able to work with him when I did,” Gisondo said. “We all miss him. Very much.”