Daryl Hannah is “stunned” by the death of her friend Paul Reubens, who lost a private, six-year cancer battle.
As news spread on Monday that the actor best known for playing Pee-wee Herman died, the Kill Bill and Splash star tells Yahoo she’s in shock, noting they just spoke “two weeks ago” and she “didn’t know” about his health ordeal.
“I’ve known him since the Groundlings years,” she says, referring to their work with the famed L.A. improv group. Reubens debuted his signature character while working with the troupe. Hannah took Groundling workshops after she had found stardom to boost her skills.
“He was just one of the most sensitive, sweet, caring” people and “had the best sense of humor,” Hannah says, adding she’ll always remember his “wit and sort of naughty irreverence.” She adds that he always tried to make his friends smile. “Before there was even the internet, he remembered everyone’s birthday, sent them messages and the funniest Christmas cards,” she says.
The actress became emotional reflecting, as the news had just broke.
“I can’t even talk about it,” she says. “I’m a little bit stunned because I just spoke to him two weeks ago, you know? And I didn’t know about his cancer, so it’s a bit of a shock.”
Hannah also shared a tribute on social media, including a throwback photo of them. Reubens had on Pee-wee’s signature suit and red bowtie, which he wore on Pee-wee’s Playhouse from 1986 to 1990 and 1985’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, among other projects.
Hannah wrote, “LOVE u forever P.W. Paul creative genius & friend who never, in over 40 years, failed to send a hilarious message on a birthday, holiday or special event. What a wonderful silly irreverent sensitive human & incredible talent. ‘A loner … A rebel. “One of a kind. Today’s secret word is – heartbroken.”
The news of Reubens’s death was posted on his social media channels on Monday. “Last night we said farewell to Paul Reubens, an iconic American actor, comedian, writer and producer whose beloved character Pee-wee Herman delighted generations of children and adults with his positivity, whimsy and belief in the importance of kindness,” it said. “Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit. A gifted and prolific talent, he will forever live in the comedy pantheon and in our hearts as a treasured friend and man of remarkable character and generosity of spirit.”
The message was accompanied by a quote from Reubens, who asked for forgiveness from his fans for “not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years.”
– Beth Greenfield contributed to this report