The British actor had scheduled a meeting to catch up with his pal after hearing of his recent ill health, but he was too late.
Phillips explains to Britain's Sunday Mirror newspaper, "He was a very private person though and we fell out of contact for a while. That happens with people in this industry. Then recently I read that he had been unwell. I made plans to go and see him, but the day I was supposed to go they told me it was too late because he had died. That came as a great shock to me."
The Lawrence Of Arabia star died on 14 December (13) at the age of 81.