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Film

How Robin Williams changed Jessica Chastain’s life

Robin Williams was one of the finest actors the world has ever seen, acclaimed for his superb roles in a long list of critically and commercially ground-breaking films not limited to Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Mrs Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), Good Will Hunting (1997) and Patch Adams (1998).

Williams tragically took his own life in 2014 at his home in Paradise Cay, California. His autopsy revealed that he had undiagnosed Lewy body disease, a type of dementia that affects sleep, behaviour, mood and the regulation of automatic bodily functions.

Tributes and words of recognition flooded in from all across the world following Williams’ tragic and untimely death. He will be sorely missed in the world of the film industry for his fine attention to detail as an actor, and as the person he was himself.

Williams was noted for being one of the kindest people in the industry, especially when appearing before fans and members of the public. Many stories of Williams’ acts of kindness have circulated since his death, including visiting sick children in hospital and flying out to Iraq and Afghanistan to thank the American soldiers fighting there personally.

There have also been reports of Robin Williams diffusing difficult and awkward public situations by going up and ‘acting like Robin Williams’. Another story comes from a time in which a man had tragically lost both his parents and found himself in a diner, drinking coffee at 2:30am, when Williams’ so happened to be in there. Williams proceeded to talk to the man in mourning and comfort him. The actor could just be a normal person rather than a celebrity, and that is what made him so approachable.

Williams further exemplified the very essence of altruism when he set up a scholarship at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York. Amazingly one of the recipients of the generous award was the actress Jessica Chastain, who made her breakthrough in 2011’s The Tree of Life before she gained commercial success in the sci-fi blockbusters Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015).

“Robin Williams changed my life,” said Chastain. “He was a great actor and a generous person. Through a scholarship, he made it possible for me to graduate college. His generous spirit will forever inspire me to support others as he supported me. He will forever be missed.”

“I’m the first person in my family to go to college,” Chastain once revealed in an interview with Interview Magazine. “We didn’t have a lot of money, and Juilliard is a pretty expensive school. Robin Williams is a very generous Juilliard alumnus, and gives a scholarship every two years to a student, and it pays for everything, and I got it. I still haven’t gotten to meet him.”