My favorite Robin Williams’ film is Dead Poets Society, but this scene from Good Will Hunting encapsulates the man’s best work for me: Williams starts off the scene on script, but by the middle, when he mentions his late wife waking herself, farting in her sleep, he’s off and running on one of his can’t-help-it improvisations — when the camera cuts to Matt Damon’s busting-up reaction, notice the frame wiggling as the cameraman tries to keep it all together.
This hilarious moment captures Williams’ quicksilver knack for improvisation as well as his ability to engage in a nuanced dialog while remaining intimately close to the bone. Here, he slides effortlessly between the two like the talented, troubled genius that he was.
“O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done…”