Billy Connolly on his last conversation with close friend Robin Williams
Scottish comedy legend Billy Connolly has spoken about his last conversation with his dear friend Robin Williams.
Connolly revealed that the American star had asked him for advice on dealing with Parkinson’s disease, and phoned him a week later to thank him.
Williams tragically took his own life last month, after battling with depression. He was close friends with Connolly after the two met on a Canadian chat-show in the 1980s. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s shortly before his death, but only told his close friends and family.
Connolly, who also suffers with Parkinson’s, explained how he had offered a small piece of advice to Williams. He had told him how he deal with the lack of facial expressions that are a symptom of the illness just a few days before his friend committed suicide.
‘Oh my God he was saying goodbye’
Connolly said: “He phoned me a week later, just days before it happened, and he said ‘it’s brilliant it’s working’.
“During the call he kept telling me he loved me. I said ‘I know’. But he kept repeating it saying ‘do you really know I love you’. I was thinking what the f*** is he on about?
“After his death I thought ‘oh my God he was saying goodbye’.”
Williams’ death shook the world, with comedians and actors paying tribute to a star of his generation.
Connolly also explained about the moment he heard about his friend’s death, and how he had feared his friend had reached out to him in his final moments: “It broke my heart when he died. I was in Malta with my family and my children were all crying. They all loved him.
“I thought he phoned me in the middle of the night… but he couldn’t have. My phone went in the middle of the night and I just left it.
“The phone was on the other side of the bedroom and I thought f*** that, it’s four in the morning. When I got up it was a Californian number. But he didn’t have my Maltese number… so it couldn’t have been him. It couldn’t have.”
New film: What We Did on Our Holiday
Connolly was speaking ahead of the launch of the new British film What We Did on Our Holiday, in which he plays a family grandfather who is suffering with cancer. The role was very personal to Connolly, as he had also been diagnosed with prostate cancer at the time of filming, but had not made his illness public at the time.
The Glasgow-born star said: “At the time I knew I had cancer but I had not been operated on. I hadn’t told them and in the movie I have to say to my granddaughter ‘I have cancer’ and it was the first time I had said those words to anybody apart from Pamela and the family. But no-one else.
“It was very peculiar and strangely eerie that moment. It was quite easy to get into the mood of the character because it was very real to me.”
Connolly has had a tough couple of years, losing his close friend and being diagnosed himself with cancer, Parkinson’s and deafness.
However, the likeable star remains positive and philosophical about his life. He said: “I have been through the wars. I am getting old,” says the comedian and Hollywood star, still with a twinkle of the manic energy that announced him to the world.
“I have had 71 incredible years. I had pneumonia in my twenties but nothing since then. I guess you get your lot. Some have it sprinkled through their life and others get it, whammy at the end.
“The week I found out about it all was quite funny, it was like a comedy sketch. I got acid reflux, deafness, cancer and Parkinson’s in the same week.”
Looking to the future
Connolly went on to reveal that he prefers not to know the details of his illnesses, preferring to let the doctors do their job and focus his energies on more positive things: “I don’t know if there’s a risk of the cancer spreading, not that they told me. I don’t ask.
“I am very much on the outside of it all. I don’t really bother much about it. Some people go on the internet and research it and they email me and say ‘I have discovered this about Parkinson’s’. I’m like ‘f*** off, talk about something else’.
“Others say ‘we are meeting on Wednesday’. I can’t think of anything worse than sitting about looking at the worst guy in the room and thinking ‘that’s how I’m going to be’.
Connolly appears to be as honest and charming as he ever has been. His career in showbiz started in the 1960s, when he was part of a traditional folk band called the Humblebums alongside Gerry Rafferty. He has since moved into stand-up comedy and acting, and become a much-loved personality across the world.
His new film What We Did On Our Holiday will be released in the UK on 26th September. Watch the trailer below.