The iconic 12 Angry Men director died in April (11) at the age of 86 after a battle with lymphoma, but Williams proved his contributions to Hollywood would never be forgotten by those who knew him best by penning a heartfelt letter to his fourth wife, Mary Gimbel.
Williams, who landed a Golden Globe nomination for his role in Lumet's Prince of the City, spoke of his admiration for the filmmaker at a special screening of the 1981 movie at New York's Lincoln Center on Sunday (24Jul11).
He hailed Lumet as "the greatest American born filmmaker for whom I have ever worked", before going on to share excerpts of his note with the audience.
He said, "I'd like to read you part of a note I wrote to Sidney's wonderful wife just recently: 'Prince of The City will always be a film of which I am extremely proud. I consider myself very lucky to work with Sidney on such an extraordinary project but it did not end there. I have unconsciously never changed my understanding of how to prepare, rehearse and act in a film after we made Prince.
"For the last 30 years I've applied everything I've learned from Sidney to everything I do. Every day I walk on a set, even now I'm using that skill set that Sidney gave me. So in a way it's like I take Sidney with me wherever I go on this planet and he still guides me to be the best I can be. And when it goes well after a take I can still hear his wonderful voice say to everyone in the room, 'That's a print, check the gate.' He's left us all a great legacy. No one did it better."