Robin Williams Once Broke His Co-Star Robert De Niro's Nose On Set

The late Robin Williams has been categorized as one of the best comedians of all time, known for his frenetic energy, improvisational comedy, and kind nature. While he started his career doing stand-up shows in the '70s, his role on the sitcom "Mork & Mindy" is what kickstarted his stardom. While you might not have realized Williams voiced some iconic but less popular cartoon characters, he became most associated with beloved roles such as Genie from "Aladdin," the titular Mrs. Doubtfire, and teacher John Keating in "The Dead Poet's Society."

On the other hand, Robert De Niro, while reportedly a quiet, well-mannered person in real life, has garnered a much tougher reputation through his most notable film roles. For example, he played the young mob boss Vito Corleone in "The Godfather Part II," while also starring in the much prepared for film "Raging Bull" as Italian-American boxer Jake LaMotta.

Given these contrasting images, fans of the actors may be surprised to learn good-natured Williams actually broke De Niro's nose when the two were working together on the 1990 film "Awakenings." It was admittedly an accident, but that doesn't make the story any less of an interesting anecdote.

Williams accidentally broke his co-star's nose during a scene

Robin Williams and Robert De Niro worked together on "Awakenings," a 1990 film adapted from Oliver Sack's memoir of the same name. Williams plays Dr. Malcolm Sayer, a neurologist treating patients in catatonic states, while de Niro stars as Leonard Lowe, a patient who responds positively to a drug trial.

In a 1996 interview with Australian talk show host Ray Martain, Williams talked about breaking his co-star's nose during "Awakenings." "In the making of that movie I broke his nose by accident," he said about De Niro. "We had this struggle when I was supposed to be restraining him when he was having a seizure and my elbow went 'bam!' and it made a noise like a chicken bone breaking."

Reportedly, De Niro took the incident relatively well, staying calm during the entire ordeal. In fact, the "Taxi Driver" star appears to view the accident positively, with People quoting, "The thing is, my nose was broken once before, and he knocked it back in the other direction — straightened it out...It looks better than it did before."

Williams and De Niro remained friends after Awakenings

Despite the accidental bout of violence between Robin Williams and Robert De Niro on the set of "Awakenings," the two reportedly stayed friends long after the filming of the movie. For example, the two appeared together on SNL in 2010. Then, in 2011, De Niro supported Williams in his Broadway performance in Rajiv Joseph's "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo."

One of the biggest signifiers of the two's lasting friendship came after Williams's death in August 2014 when De Niro honored his past co-star by dedicating an award to him. In October of the same year, "The Goodfellas" star was presented with Entertainment Icon Award at the Friars Foundation Gala.

"If you know me, you know how much I like to laugh. And no one made me laugh like Robin," he said in his acceptance speech. "Of course, it was more than the jokes. He had so much humanity...He was a wonderful actor, sure, but those feelings were real. No one could fake that kind of love and compassion. Robin, my dear friend, I dedicate this award to you" (via Independent).