Robin Williams "Would Still Be Alive" If Christopher Reeve Hadn't Died, Glenn Close Says

The actors were extremely close friends.

While audiences everywhere mourn the loss of Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams, who died at ages 52 and 63, respectively, many fans may not be aware that the actors shared a deep connection. Despite their very different careers, the stars were actually long-time friends, their relationship beginning when they were roommates at The Juilliard School in New York City in the '70s. They remained so close throughout their lives that one mutual friend of theirs believes that one of their deaths could have prevented the other's. Glenn Close, who worked with both actors, says in a new documentary about Reeve that if he hadn't died 20 years ago, Williams "would still be alive" today.

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After suffering a horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down nine years earlier, Reeve died of cardiac arrest at the age of 52 in 2004. Williams died by suicide in 2014 at the age of 63 after suffering depression and anxiety linked to Lewy body dementia.

Reeve's life and career is documented in the new film Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. As reported by The Guardian, the movie shows the depth of his friendship with Williams, including how he supported him after Reeve became paralyzed. The Good Will Hunting star would throw Reeve a party every year on the anniversary of his accident. The film also shows Williams grieving the Superman star's death.

Close, who is featured in the film, co-starred with Williams in the 1982 film The World According to Garp and had a cameo in his 1991 movie Hook. She also knew Reeve, as he directed her in the 1997 TV movie In the Gloaming. "I've always thought if Chris was still around, then Robin would still be alive," she says of their friendship in the documentary.

Christopher Reeve, Dana Reeve, William Reeve, and Robin Williams at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival
Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Close previously shared this thought in a speech at the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's A Magical Evening Gala in 2017.

"Their friendship, their connection, is the stuff of legend," the Fatal Attraction star said at the event, according to E! News. "It not only endured, but became a life-giving force sustaining them both. I am convinced that if Chris were still with us, Robin would be too."

Close also talked about observing Williams and Reeve's friendship in her speech. "My first connection to Christopher Reeve was through Robin Williams, when we were shooting The World According to Garp," she said. "On Friday evenings, Chris would literally swoop in, piloting his own plane, scoop Robin up, and away they would fly for the weekend. On Sunday, late afternoon, Chris would swoop back in and deliver Robin back—I have to say a little worse for wear." She added, "Those were the heady days for them both. They were on top of the world. They were living the kind of fast and crazy life that our business can hand to you if you become a wildly famous phenomenon, practically overnight."

Glenn Close, Richard Belzer, Christopher Reeve, and Helen Hunt at A Magical Evening Gala To Benefit The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation in 2001
Jim Spellman/WireImage via Getty Images

Close continued of Reeve, "I miss Chris. He was a great man. He had more… he had more moral and mental fortitude than anyone I will ever know. It moved me to the core and there were times when it even took my breath away."

Reeve and Williams reflected on their enduring friendship during their lives. As reported by The Daily Beast, Reeve once said of Williams, "My friendship with Robin Williams is one of the real joys of my life. Robin is a person who gives to people 24 hours a day. The gift of joy, the gift of laughter. Just to be in a room with Robin Williams is a privilege. He's a gift to the world."

As for Williams, a fan asked for his favorite memory of Reeve during a 2013 Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). "Him being such a great friend to me at Juilliard," Williams responded, "literally feeding me because I don't think I literally had money for food or my student loan hadn't come in yet, and he would share his food with me. And then later after the accident, just seeing him beaming and just, seeing what he meant to so many people."

If you are or a loved one is struggling with suicide or depression, you can call the 988 Suicide
& Crisis Lifeline at 988 or visit 988lifeline.org.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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