Robin Williams' fight with Parkinson's disease revealed in new doc

When the news of Robin Williams‘ death broke in 2014, the world was shocked. Fans didn’t understand what could drive him to suicide, but a new documentary called Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops aims to shed light on his life. Taking those who loved the accomplished comedian and actor behind the scenes, the REELZ documentary speaks to friends of the star as well as media figures who’ve chronicled his life. Through interviews, the film walks viewers through Williams’ last few months as well as his struggle with Parkinson’s Disease and depression.

“While he was happy to talk publicly about his addictions to both booze and drugs, he kept his longer and more personally painful battle with Parkinson’s disease all to himself,” AMI Vice President and Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard says in the film.

In the past, Williams had talked about getting clean and being scared straight by comedian John Belushi’s death. “It sobered the s–t out of me,” he said in an interview featured in the 2018 documentary, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind.

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Robin Williams with his children
Robin Williams, daughter Zelda and son Cody during "RV" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 9: Robin Williams and Zelda Williams arrive at "Old Dogs" World Premiere at the El Capitan Theater on November 9, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)
Zelda Williams and Robin Williams during Robin Williams and JoJo Visit MTV's "TRL" - April 27, 2006 at MTV Studios - Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jason Kempin/FilmMagic)
Cody Williams and actor Robin Williams attend "A Magical Evening" hosted by The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation at The Marriott Marquis on November 12, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by L. Busacca/WireImage)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 18: Zak Williams and Robin Williams attend the Timo Pre Fall 2009 Launch with Interview Magazine at Phillips De Pury on November 18, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Timo Wallets LLC)
Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda at the The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Zelda Williams attends The Grand Opening Of SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Robin Williams Center at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center on October 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Zachary Pym Williams and Zelda Willimas attend The Grand Opening Of SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Robin Williams Center at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center on October 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Zachary Pym Williams attends The Grand Opening Of SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Robin Williams Center at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center on October 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/WireImage)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 26: Zelda and Cody Williams, children of Robin Williams, take part in pre-game ceremonies before Game Five of the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park on October 26, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Billy Crystal greets Robin Williams' son Zak Williams before Zak throws out the first pitch before the start of San Francisco Giants' Game 5 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014.(Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)(Digital First Media Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)
Robin Williams and Zelda Williams arrive to the New York Premiere of "House of D" held at Loews Lincoln Square , New York City ZAK BRIAN. (Photo by Brian ZAK/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
US actress and daughter of late US actor Robin Williams, Zelda Williams arrives to attend the 18th Post-Golden Globes Party hosted by Warner Bros Pictures and InStyle at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. / AFP / LILLY LAWRENCE (Photo credit should read LILLY LAWRENCE/AFP/Getty Images)
Actor Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda pose on arrival for the world premiere of the movie 'Happy Feet Two' in Hollywood on November 13, 2011 in southern California. Happy Feet Two will presented in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D, and also in 2D, on November 18, 2011. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 13: Actors Zelda Williams and Robin Williams attend the "Happy Feet Two" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 13, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: Robin Williams and Zelda Williams pose at the premiere of Magnolia Pictures' 'World's Greatest Dad' at The Landmark Theater on August 13, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 20: Robin Williams and Zelda Williams attend the 2008 Outfest Film Festival Hosts The 14th Annual Film Competition Awards at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on July 20, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amy Graves/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 09: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS) Zelda Williams and Robin Williams backstage during the 33rd Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 9, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for PCA)
Robin Williams and Daughter Zelda during World Premiere of "Happy Feet" - Arrivals at Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
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He hadn’t been quite so open about his other health struggles, something his friends comment on in the doc. “Comedians, they experience highs and lows,” says comedian Jeffrey Gurian. “They’re usually very sensitive, very creative, very smart.”

Despite having it all, Williams was still dragged deep into depression to the point of wanting to take his own life. “If success and fame and money and friends doesn’t matter in the end, then what does?” asks Gurian.

Though he brought a lot of light into other people’s lives, he rarely gave others glimpses into the darkness of his own life. In When the Laughter Stops, the star’s fans and followers are able to see more of Williams’ personal life and how he balanced his health, his career and his fame for as long as he did.

Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops airs on REELZ Sunday, August 11, at 9 p.m. E.T.

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