The Saving Private Ryan star talked to Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric about the debt he and his childhood friend owe the late actor after he helped them get their first project off the ground.
"Ben and I owe everything to him," he said of Williams. "He said yes to our movie and he got it made. I could never thank him enough. I look around at the life I have and how blessed I feel and so much of it started with him."
Williams, 63, died in August by suicide after struggling for years with addiction and depression. After his death, his wife, Susan Schneider, revealed the actor had also been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease not long before he took his own life. Damon told Couric the news of Williams' death "shocked" him and led to a serious bout of regret for not keeping in better touch with the Oscar-winning actor.
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"I think [Williams' death] affected everybody in the country, actually," said the 43-year-old Boston native. "We all felt like we knew him and that he was a part of our lives... I think everyone who wasn't there with him at the end feels bad that they didn't see it coming."
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"I hope that it can start a conversation in the country about depression and just how serious it is, and what an exceptionally powerful disease that it is," he continued. "I hope I become better at checking in with my friends. I hope that we, as a country, get better at checking in with each other."