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Nathan Lane On Robin Williams: ‘Nobody Was More Kind Or Generous’

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nathan Lane and the late Robin Williams are remembered by many adoring fans for their roles in the 1996 movie “The Birdcage.”

In the wake of Williams’ suicide last week at the age of 63, Lane talked about his former co-star’s death with CBS 2’s Dana Tyler at the Joe Allen restaurant in Midtown Tuesday.

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In the movie, Williams and Lane respectively play Miami Beach nightclub owner Armand Goldman and his romantic partner, Albert, who also stars in a drag show at the club.

The co-stars shared an assortment of laugh-out-loud scenes as their characters conspired to fool ultraconservative U.S. Senator Kevin Keeley – played by Gene Hackman – and his wife, Louise – played by Dianne West. Williams’ character’s son, Val (Dan Futterman) planned to marry the Keeleys’ daughter, Barbara (Calista Flockhart.)

Williams, 63, was found dead Monday in his northern California home. The actor hanged himself with a belt, police officials said.

(Photo Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

Robin Williams (Photo Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

In talking about Williams, Lane looked back on his former co-star’s personal warmth and enthusiasm.

“Nobody was more kind or generous, and he was the most compassionate and sensitive soul — I mean, obviously, funny, and you know; an entertaining person to be around,” Lane said. “He was an extraordinary intellect. The way his mind worked, you know, should have been studied in laboratories.”

Lane also lamented the loss of Williams to suicide.

“I’ve been very sad. It’s hard to talk about,” he said. “The heartbreaking thing is the notion that he was in such pain and despair that he felt that was the only way out, and I hate thinking about that.”

Lane said the memories of Williams’ talent will live on.

“The way Billy Crystal said — there are no words,” he said. “I’m just — it’s very sad and yet, I think that all we can do is just remember him as the genius he was and what he left behind.”

This past Thursday, Williams’ widow, Susan Schneider, said her late husband was struggling with depression, anxiety and the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease when he was found dead.

“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,” Schneider said in a statement. “It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”

In addition to his role with Lane in “The Birdcage,” Williams is also best known for his roles in the TV sitcom “Mork & Mindy” and in films such as “Good Will Hunting,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Dead Poets Society.”

He also appeared in Broadway’s “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” in 2011.

Lane will appear on Broadway beginning Sept. 28 in the Terrence McNally comedy “It’s Only a Play.” He will star alongside Matthew Broderick, Megan Mullally, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham, and Rupert Grint.

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