Williams son Gill admits to PEOPLE that it's strange to live in a world now where his father is "actually gone"
"I think because of the suddenness of it — there was absolutely no preparation — so I find that I'm still grappling with the fact that it happened and that he's really, really gone," Van Sant tells PEOPLE.
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Williams and Van Sant, who married in 1988, welcomed their son Gill in 1992 and daughter Ellie in 1998. The couple lived a quiet life in Vermont, an adopted home state for which the actor had "an enormous love," he told Vermont Magazine in 2021, describing the people there as "incredibly honest, real and good-humored."
Gill admits it’s strange to live in a world now where his father is “actually gone.”
“But at the same time, he’s left behind this beautiful legacy,” he explains. “I think that's something that you're very lucky if your parent is an artist — especially when [the artist] is as prolific as him, because you do get to, in many ways, still be with them through that art.”
With more than 120 credits to his name, Williams made his film debut alongside James Earl Jones as a police officer in the 1975 crime thriller Deadly Hero. He took on more film roles from there, including the 1976 films The Ritz and The Eagle Has Landed.
The actor’s career reached one of several high points in 1979 when he starred as the free-spirited hippie Berger in the film Hair, a role that earned him his first Golden Globe nomination. His second nod came two years later for 1981's Prince of the City.
From 2002 to 2006 he starred as Dr. Andrew "Andy" Brown on The WB's Everwood, landing a SAG Award nomination for outstanding performance by a male actor in 2003. He also appeared in films including Steven Spielberg's 1979 war comedy 1941 and appeared on the small screen in Blue Bloods, The Late Shift and Hallmark's The Christmas House, Beyond the Blackboard and Safe Harbor.
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But as dedicated an actor as Williams was, the role that mattered most to him was that of husband and father.
“His family was the thing that he always said [he'd be remembered for],” Ellie recalls.
“You guys are obviously his legacy,” Van Sant says, referring to Gill and Ellie. “He was just so proud of both of them.”
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