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09/12/2014 10:49 am ET

Ethan Hawke Calls Robin Williams A 'Light For The World'

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Ethan Hawke's second major film, 1989's "Dead Poets Society," placed the young actor under the tutelage of Robin Williams. During a new interview with Canadian radio program "Q with Jian Ghomeshi," Hawke recalls Williams helping him to secure an agent at age 18. His next breakout role, 1991's "White Fang," followed, but Hawke says the memory pales in comparison to the experience of shooting "Dead Poets Society" -- the first time he felt, thanks to Williams, the "thrill" of acting.

"The other truth is, even [when I was] 18, it was obvious that [Robin] was in a tremendous amount of pain. I don't know to what extent. Anybody who was watching knew," Hawke said. "A lot of people aren't watching, actually, because he's so funny and so light. He moved us all. There was a very serious mind there. He was also so sentimental. He had this big, sensitive heart. When we lose a great, great clown -- that's what he was -- there are people who are scared of that word a little bit, but he was a light for the world. [...] I remember when they would hand out our checks on 'Dead Poets Society,' he would go, 'Carpe per diem, kids! Carpe per diem!'"

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