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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- The Virginia man behind Robin Williams' Oscar-nominated role in "Good Morning Vietnam" says the star was "always odd."

And Adrian Cronauer suspects that was Williams' way of hiding his inner torment.

By phone from his home near Roanoke, Cronauer says he never dreamed the star would take his own life. "I was gobsmacked."

But for years, Cronauer has offered this prescient insight about Robin Williams inner struggle. "He really is a very shy, bashful, introverted person, and he does all this shtick to build a wall around himself so no one can get through to hurt the real Robin."

"The only time my wife and I have seen him put down that facade even a little bit was when he was playing with his little kids."

Cronauer says he pitched his idea for "Good Morning Vietnam" as a cross between MASH and WKRP in Cincinnati. And it was a breakthrough. "It was the first movie to show Americans as they really were instead of murderers and rapists and baby killers and dope addicts and psychotics....They were just ordinary people."

And now we know Williams was just an ordinary person too, struggling with extraordinary demons.

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