Vanessa Redgrave "wanted to die" after suffering a heart attack last year.
The 79-year-old actress suffered a near-fatal heart problem in April 2015 and has admitted she wished she was dead when she was sat in her hospital bed.
Asked if she thought she was going to die, the London-born star said: "At the time? When I was in hospital I wanted to die."
Vanessa explained that trying to live was "getting too tiring".
She continued: "I was with my daughter, and I said, 'I'm sorry, I just think I'm going to have to give up,' - knowing she'd be unhappy, of course. And she was wonderful."
Vanessa said her daughter Joely was the person who encouraged her to keep living.
Asked how her daughter convinced her of the value of her own life, Vanessa told the Guardian newspaper: "By telling me I could. Her saying I could give up released me.
"I told her what I thought I had to do ... just give up. But I had to tell her that because I guess it's my psychology. I didn't want to hurt her, but I knew it would hurt her."
Meanwhile, Vanessa - who is a self-confessed Marxist - also revealed how her own faith influences her life.
She shared: "Certainly I do [have faith]. And the reason why I do is because I don't consider science and religion two fixed opposites. Human beings have felt the need to explain things that they couldn't explain, and acknowledge the existence of things they can't explain but want to."
Vanessa said she is comfortable with the direct contradictions between her Marxist ideology and her faith.
The actress said: "If you're not happy to embrace contradictions, you're not going to get very far in understanding anything."