Filmmaker Barry Levinson, who directed Robin Williams in one of his best-loved roles, says the late comedian was an extraordinary performer.

Levinson — in Venice to screen film festival entry "The Humbling" — directed "Good Morning, Vietnam." Williams gained dramatic credibility, and an Academy Award nomination, with his performance as a fast-talking army radio DJ during the Vietnam War in the 1987 movie.

"He was brilliant and sensitive in ways that were extraordinary," Levinson said of Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11 at the age of 63.

At a Venice news conference, the director recalled how Williams had improvised scenes with Vietnamese performers on the set of the movie.

"And his interest in the people was so fascinating that he was able to pull out their behavior and how they thought and functioned, which really brought a life to 'Good Morning Vietnam' up and above what the story details were," Levinson said.

"He had an enormous passion for people, a great sense of humanity and he was an extraordinary human being."