Ron Howard’s career has been anything but predictable.
The actor, a former Armonk resident, went from child actor on “The Andy Griffith Show” to a teen icon on “Happy Days.”
Then Howard, a member of the Board of Directors of the Jacob Burns Center in Pleasantville, stepped behind the camera as an award-winning director.
Howard will discuss his career on the Yes Network’s “CenterStage” on Wednesday night at 11 p.m. Grab a late night snack to hear him dish about his films and more.
Here are some highlights from the chat:
On fighting for “Splash”:
“Every studio turned it down, and then suddenly Disney wanted to make it. But this was Disney in the era of Gus the Field-Goal-Kicking Mule and Herbie 8 or something, you know. I knew it needed to be at least PG. I wanted a contemporary comedy, I wanted her (the mermaid) to be topless, even if her hair covered her breasts, more or less. I wanted that sensuality, and, uh, Brian (Grazer) literally had to go to the Board of Directors of Disney…and say, I won’t have my director (Howard) if I don’t have your word that it can be PG and that she doesn’t have to wear a top. He won that battle for me, and I just thought it had become a really rare, unique possibility, and that’s what I’m always looking for a movie that has a chance to stand out and be fresh.”
On directing Bette Davis:
“It was one of my early directing opportunities, and it was a television movie called Skyward. She (Davis) loved the script. She wanted to do it. But it really bugged her that this kid from a TV show was directing. And then she laughed, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, and the crew laughed, and I laughed, too, ha-ha-ha, and then I, like, popped a couple of Tums, and, worked my way through the day, including a moment where she was doing something that I just didn’t think was right for the scene. And I gave her the adjustment, and she said, “Oh, well, I think you’re wrong, but I’ll try it.” And then she did it, and halfway through, she said, “You know, you’re absolutely right.” Makes the scene work better. Thank you. Okay. We went through the whole day. Things got better. And when it was over, I said, “Ms. Davis, you’re wrapped, today, great day, I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” And she said, “Okay, Ron, see you in the morning,” and patted me on the ass.”
On directing Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind”:
“He’s a challenging guy, because he’s very intense. And he’s wrapped up in what he’s doing, he’s a dynamic guy, he’s his own guy, he won’t just play ball just to play ball, but he also never sandbags a note. Like, if you’re the director and you say, “Please, just try it this way,” he gives it the same 110%…even if he says, “I don’t really agree with the idea, I don’t think that’s going to work.” And you have to understand that there’s this intensity that he has, and I would say it’s a little bit like, being on a, a tropical island. It’s like the weather patterns will change…it might even get kind of rainy and dark for a moment, but the sun will come out again. That’s the way I think it is working with Russell, and it’s, it’s well worth it, because he’s a true artist.”
On auditioning for his “Happy Days” role when the series was picked up:
“The show (Happy Days) didn’t sell. Then I got the American Graffiti role. That movie was a huge, huge success, and so then ABC was running around trying to find a show like American Graffiti. Garry Marshall (legendary producer/director) said, well, you’ve got one (actor to play Richie Cunningham), it’s sitting on your shelf. It’s the same guy who’s in the movie. So they looked at it and they said, “Alright, let’s do a new pilot. But we’re going to have to test him.” And I thought, “God, I was in the pilot. And after all, I was Opie. I’m in the Top 10 Academy Award nominated movie, American Graffiti, and I have to test?” Uh, but, you know, it’s a rough business.”
Howard will also discuss naming his children, being harassed in high school and much more. Find out where to find The Yes Network here.