In an interview on The Early Show to promote his new movie "The Final Cut," Williams paid tribute to Reeve, 52, who died Sunday of complications from an infection. Reeve, who suffered a paralyzing injury in a 1995 horse-riding fall, became a larger-than-life advocate for the disabled, raising money for spinal cord research. Reeve was best known for his movie role as Superman.
"It's hard for me to believe he's gone because he was such a fighter and such a strong personality and soul to begin with," Williams told co-anchor Harry Smith. "People used to come up to me in New York, I remember, the first time after the accident: 'Tell your friend he's amazing!' Guys in the back of a garbage truck: 'Tell Chris hello!'"
"Guys yesterday when I was coming in for the ceremony, there were guys standing outside. 'My feelings are with you; I'm very sorry about your loss.' Just guys, regular people who were sending out their condolences."
Williams said he was particularly impressed with Reeve's work on behalf of stem-cell research and was gratified when Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential contender, quoted Reeve in one of the presidential debates.
"It was such a powerful statement and now it's weird to think of him being gone," Williams, also 52, said.
His new movie, which opens in limited release Friday, takes place in the future when, for a price, a chip can be implanted in your brain, which literally records everything that happens in your life. Williams plays the "cutter" who edits out the unpleasantness after death and assembles a "final cut," which Williams likened to "your own AFI (American Film Institute) tribute."
"I mean, it's things that I've seen many times when you go to these things where they have a career retrospective and this is someone's life retrospective," Williams said.
Because his character specializes in nastier people - those with violent, secret pasts - Williams explores the darker side of life and the question of what our memories really mean to those around us.
The son of an auto company executive, Williams started out as an improvisational comic before turning to acting. He was nominated for an Academy Award three times ("Good Morning, Vietnam," "Dead Poets Society" and "The Fisher King") before he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Good Will Hunting."
His latest film, a science fiction drama directed by Omar Naim, also stars Mira Sorvino and Jim Caviezel.