Robin Williams' Most Spiritual Role: How 'What Dreams May Come' Offered A Glimpse Into The Afterlife

The Most Spiritual Film Robin Williams Ever Made Was About Death

Hollywood lost one its great actors on Monday to an apparent suicide, leaving many stunned and saddened. Robin Williams was just 63 years old when he was found dead in his Bay Area apartment, police reported.

In addition to the brilliant comedic performances for which he is commonly known, Williams left a trail of subtle, dramatic roles in his wake, including the 1998 film, "What Dreams May Come."

In this highly spiritual movie that explores the concept of death and the afterlife, Williams' character, Chris Nielson, dies in a car accident four years after losing his two children. In the scene above, Neilson awakens to find himself in the afterlife, which is both beautiful and unexpected. In the afterlife he is reunited with his dog and at first confuses his surroundings for "dog heaven."

As he continues exploring the afterlife and coming to terms with his death, however, Nielson takes ownership of the situation. "Maybe I'm not in your heaven after all, girl," he says. "Maybe you're in mine."

Williams participated in a Reddit AMA in 2013 in which one questioner asked him about his role in the film. The reader asked:

I wept like an emotionally disturbed infant when I watched "What Dreams May Come." What was the most valuable thing you learned about your acting from that movie/what criticism stuck with you the most afterwards?

Williams responded: "That every moment in life is precious?"

He went on to discuss the film's ending in which (spoiler alert) the doctor and his wife choose to reincarnate and live out their lives together again. Williams said he favored an alternate ending that depicted reincarnation as a mandatory and natural cycle of life -- one which saves them from reliving their previous lives.

[I learned] that the gifts of your relationships with others, don't miss it. That was one of the hardest movies I think I ever did in my whole career. Every day was literally hell, because of the nature of the subject matter, dealing with death and being in hell literally. When I watched the final movie, I felt it was extraordinarily beautiful but I felt disappointed by the ending. There was a different ending that they shot that I felt was much more true to the story. It was about reincarnation, basically, that they were going to meet again. The movie ended with two babies being born simultaneously, one in Bombay and one in the United States, and they held them up, and then the screen went to black. I don't know if it's anywhere.

Here are two more inspiring scenes from Williams' life work:

From the 1989 "Dead Poets Society":

From the 1997 "Good Will Hunting":

Rest in peace, Mr. Williams.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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Robin Williams' Most Memorable Movies

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