"I felt that the work was the easy part for me. It was just making sure that, you know, he was okay and that they weren't working him too hard," Gellar said of her 'Crazy Ones' costar Williams, who died in August 2014
Sarah Michelle Gellar is looking back on the bond she shared with friend and costar Robin Williams, and how his untimely death helped shift her perspective about life.
Gellar, 46, joined Shannen Doherty on her Let's Be Clear podcast on Monday, where she discussed feeling “very protective” of Williams while they costarred on the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones together from September 2013 until April 2014.
The project, which saw the two portray a father-daughter duo, ultimately marked Williams' final television role. He died by suicide on Aug. 11, 2014 at age 63, and it was later discovered that he had Lewy body dementia, the second-most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer's disease.
On the podcast, Gellar explained that she signed on to do the series even though her son Rocky James was just three months old because of the chance to work with Williams.
"I went back to work right away because I was desperate to work with Robin," she explained. "When that opportunity came my way, there was no way to pass it up."
But once on set, Gellar said she was “one of the few people that knew ... that he was really struggling, that he wasn't well."
"I soaked up every moment I could with him,” she continued of Williams, who struggled with his mental health throughout his prolific career. "I felt that the work was the easy part for me. It was just making sure that, you know, he was okay and that they weren't working him too hard.”
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer star stated that a “couple of people” on the show knew about Williams and w -
ere all "very protective" of him. She added that because working on a TV show is a “hard job," she and those other people wanted to help him “without spilling secrets.”
After Williams died, Gellar recalled to Doherty, 52, how "everything just stopped." She said his death inspired her to take some time away from Hollywood and spend time with her children. (In addition to son Rocky, who is now 11, she and husband Freddie Prinze Jr. also share daughter Charlotte Grace, 14.)
"I just said, 'What am I doing? Like, my kids are really young. I've lived my whole life, I don't want to miss this... I don't want to be gone when Rocky takes this first step,'" Gellar recalled thinking. "That's what made me take all those years off was Robin. Not just him, but just you know, those moments in your life stop you in your tracks."
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Doherty quickly interjected and added, "It gives you a different sort of clarity. And your priorities shift."
Prior to Gellar’s interview with Doherty, she shared exclusively with PEOPLE in 2022 that after Williams’ death, she “needed that break to be the parent that she wanted to be."
"I need to be here for these early formative years of my kids' lives," she shared at the time. "I've been working my entire life. When I had kids — and it was right after Robinpassed away— there was justso much going onin my life and I just said, 'I need to take a break.'"
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.