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Ethan Hawke: Robin Williams was in obvious pain during 'Dead Poets Society'

As a teacher in 1989's "Dead Poets Society," Robin Williams had an immediate and lasting impact on his students — and on the actors who played them. In a new interview, "Poets" star Ethan Hawke shares how much he learned from his late co-star, and discusses the "obvious" pain he thinks Williams was in."Even (to me) at 18, it was obvious he was in a tremendous amount of pain," Hawke told Jian Gh
Image: Ethan Hawke
Director Ethan Hawke poses while promoting his film "Seymour: An Introduction" during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, in this file picture taken September 10, 2014. It has been more than 25 years since a young Hawke stepped on his desk to salute his teacher, portrayed by Robin Williams, in "Dead Poets Society." Hawke, 43, has taken on some 50 roles since and his documentary on classical pianist Seymour Bernstein has been warmly received at recent film festivals. Hawke spoke with Reuters about "Seymour: An Introduction," its underlying themes on art and mentorship, and how Williams helped him find his "barbaric yawp." To match A Minute With FILM-ETHANHAWKE/ REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files (CANADA - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)Mark Blinch / Reuters

As a teacher in 1989's "Dead Poets Society," Robin Williams had an immediate and lasting impact on his students — and on the actors who played them. In a new interview, "Poets" star Ethan Hawke shares how much he learned from his late co-star, and discusses the "obvious" pain he thinks Williams was in.

"Even (to me) at 18, it was obvious he was in a tremendous amount of pain," Hawke told Jian Ghomeshi for CBC Radio. "Anybody who was watching knew." 

Ghomeshi noted that as the world mourned Williams after the actor took his life on Aug. 11, a good deal of the attention reflected back on "Dead Poets Society," which includes a student's suicide.

"I feel like there is an immediate sadness, that is pervasive in the whole community, when somebody who made all of us so happy reveals themselves to have been in tremendous personal pain," said Hawke, who considered Williams to be his mentor.

"Na-nu Na-nu" and "O Captain, my Captain": Robin Williams will best be remembered by the characters he played and lines he delivered.

Hawke, now 43, starred as the shy Todd Anderson in "Poets." He recalled experiencing "the thrill of acting" for the first time in his life and "the thrill of losing yourself" while shooting a classroom scene with Williams.

"It's a high that I've chased my whole life since that day with Robin," Hawke said. "I felt that on 'Dead Poets Society' ... high is kind of the only word. It's an out-of-body experience."

Hawke, who said he owes his career in part to guidance he got from Williams, recently appeared at the Toronto International Film Festival promoting his new military drama "Good Kill."

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