Robin Williams Was 'Struggling in a Way He Hadn't Before' in His Final Film, Says Director Shawn Levy
Robin Williams died by suicide in August 2014 after struggling for months with an undiagnosed case of Lewy Body Dementia
On his last ever film role, Robin Williams struggled to bring the charm and talent he was known for.
Williams reprised his role as Theodore Roosevelt in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb shortly before his death, with filming wrapping up in May 2014 three months before Williams died by suicide that August. He was 63.
In Robin's Wish, a new documentary focused on the final months of Williams' life, Secret of the Tomb director Shawn Levy says Williams was having a hard time on set. The actor had been struggling with Diffuse Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) for months, which causes fluctuations in mental status, hallucinations and impairment of motor function.
"I would say a month into the shoot, it was clear to me — it was clear to all of us on that set — that something was going on with Robin," Levy says in a clip from the documentary, made available to Entertainment Tonight. "We saw that Robin was struggling in a way that he hadn't before to remember lines and to combine the right words with the performance."
"When Robin would call me at 10 at night, at two in the morning, at four in the morning, saying, 'Is it usable? Is any of this usable? Do I suck? What's going on?,' I would reassure him. I said, 'You are still you. I know it. The world knows it. You just need to remember that,' " Levy adds.
"My faith in him never left, but I saw his morale crumbling," Levy says. "I saw a guy who wasn't himself and that was unforgivable."
Directed by Tylor Norwood, Robin's Wish documents the comedian's battle with Lewy Body Dementia. It’s the second-most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.
Among those interviewed in the film is Williams' widow, Susan Schneider Williams.
"Armed with the name of a brain disease I’d never heard of, I set out on a mission to understand it, and that led me down my unchosen path of advocacy," Schneider Williams told Entertainment Weekly in a statement. "With invaluable help from leading medical experts, I saw that what Robin and I had gone through, finally made sense — our experience matched up with the science."
"And what I discovered along the way was bigger than me and bigger than Robin," she continued. "The full story was revealed during the making of this film, and it holds the truth that Robin and I had been searching for."
Explaining the movie's title and Williams' main "wish," Schneider Williams said the Oscar winner "wanted to help all of us be less afraid."
"We had been discussing what we wanted our legacies to be in life; when it was our time to go, how we wanted to have made people feel," she recalled. "Without missing a beat, Robin said, 'I want to help people be less afraid.'"