Robin Williams

Jessica Chastain emotionally shares regret over missing chance to thank Robin Williams for career

Jessica Chastain got emotional when discussing the fact that she never managed to personally thank the late Robin Williams for putting her through acting school.

Raised by a single mother, the Oscar-winning actor, 46, became the first in her family to earn a college diploma. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from Manhattan’s famed Juilliard School in the early 2000s.

Chastain’s education would not have been possible, she said, without the help of Williams’ generously funded, full-ride scholarship.

The Interstellar star spoke of the honour on a recent episode of the US chat show The View, explaining that “every two years, [the Robin Williams scholarship] would be given to a student and it paid for all of my schooling, it paid for my housing, it paid for me to be able to go home for Christmas and see my family”.

“It was a beautiful thing,” she said, noting that the scholarship also paid for her school books and food.

“Every year, you know, I wrote a note to him to say ‘thank you’, and I never got to meet him,” Chastain continued, tearing up. “And then one time I was in LA… and Robin walks into the restaurant and sits down and starts eating. My tablemate was like, ‘You have to go say hi, you have to go talk to him.’”

She recalled being “shy” and not wanting to bother the Mrs Doubtfire star, who she said soon jumped up and ran out of the restaurant. “He must’ve been late for something,” the Scenes of a Marriage actor said, adding that she jumped up to run after him before stopping herself.

Jessica Chastain and Robin Williams (Getty Images)
Jessica Chastain and Robin Williams (Getty Images)

“I [didn’t] want to look like a crazy person, attacking him or something,” Chastain said. “And I always regret it, because I never had the opportunity to say thank you in person.”

“As an actor, he loved actors,” The View co-host Whoopie Goldberg said of Williams, who died by suicide in 2014 aged 63. “He always wanted people to have the opportunities that maybe he wasn’t able to fulfill maybe the way he wanted to, so I know that that was special to him.”

Chastain can next be seen in the upcoming drama Memory. She plays Sylvia, a social worker whose structured life falls apart after being followed home after a high school reunion by Saul (Peter Sarsgaard).

Memory is out in select US cinemas on 22 December, before opening nationwide on 5 January 2024. It’s unclear when it will be available in UK cinemas.

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