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Ron Howard Reflects on Wilford Brimley’s Famous Fishing Scene in ‘Cocoon’ (Video)

Late actor asked Howard to let him film the heartbreaking scene without a script

Following the passing on Saturday evening of Wilford Brimley, director Ron Howard looked back on his work with the actor on the 1985 film “Cocoon,” particularly in one of the film’s most heartbreaking and honest scenes.

In the scene, Ben Luckett, played by Brimley, is out fishing with his grandson at his favorite spot by the highway in St. Petersburg, Florida. Ben, along with other members of his retirement home, has been given an offer by the Antareans to come to their home planet where they will be immortal. While fishing, Ben does his best to break the bittersweet news to his grandson that he will be saying goodbye forever.

“We didn’t always see eye-to-eye but I owe this ‘Cocoon’ scene to Wilfred who asked me to throw out the script & let him improvise while fishing with the boy,” Howard recalled in a tweet. “I agreed and shot a few 3-camera set-ups and he was brilliant and honest in every take.”

While Brimley was known in later years for his Quaker Oats commercials and the infamous “diabeetus” meme, “Cocoon” was a part of a series of acclaimed performances for him in the 1980s, including as Roy Hobbs’ manager Pop Fisher in “The Natural” and as the scientist-turned-abomination Dr. Blair in “The Thing.” He died on Saturday at the age of 85.

Watch Brimley’s fishing scene in “Cocoon” in the clip above.