CenterStage: Ron HowardPremieres Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 11 p.m. following Yankees Post Game
When Dodgers greats Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale were holding out in 1966 for more money, Howard woke up to the fact that he made more money than they when he was a child actor on The Andy Griffith Show
Well, well, I thought it was outrageous, a hundred thousand dollars (the amount of money being negotiated, etc. by Dodgers/Koufax/Drysdale). And then I knew what I got per week (on the Andy Griffith Show), and then I went back and realized what my residuals were, started to add it up, and I thought, well, that's not fair, I'm making more than Koufax; he deserves the money. So I was glad when they (Koufax and Drysdale) got their payday.
Fighting Disney for a topless mermaid in Splash
Every studio turned it (Splash) 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 (rating). 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.
As a young director, getting a pat on the backside from the legendary Bette Davis during the filming of a TV movie.
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.
Howard made his acting debut as an 18-month old in the movie Frontier Woman.
My dad was playing the villain in a…probably about a "B minus," maybe "C" Western. They decided they needed a crying baby. But I wound up getting this little gig. Actually, to make me cry, they gave me a little tomahawk. And they kind of let me enjoy that and like that, and then they rolled the cameras and then they just took the tomahawk away and that did the trick.
Directing the complex 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.
Despite starring in The Andy Griffith Show and American Graffiti, and despite having been featured in the Happy Days pilot, Howard still had to audition for his Happy Daysrole 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.
On the unique origin of each of his children's middle names, and why they'll never forgive him (he and his wife came up with their children's middle names based on where each child was conceived).
When we realized that our daughter Bryce was conceived in Dallas…we felt that's a very sweet middle name. Let's just go with Bryce Dallas Howard. And then when we, we found out we were going to have twins, we backtracked a little bit and said, well, how about the middle name thing? Hey, you know, kind of seems like it was the Carlyle Hotel in New York, wasn't it? Yeah it was.
Well, that's a pretty sweet little middle name. Jocelyn and Paige Carlyle Howard. We decided to have one more. We said…what do we do about the middle name thing now? We started searching and searching and searching. We looked at each other, and "Volvo" doesn't make much of a middle name. But, but the road was Cross. So Reed Cross Howard, and…there you go. By the way, ever since that story, I let that story out, my kids do not forgive me.
Being harassed while playing high school basketball because of his "Opie" fame
This whole child actor crisis that so many of us have faced, I understand exactly where it comes from, and I was very lucky to avoid it. Some of that's my family, some of it's just good fortune. You're reaching adolescence when you don't really want to be noticed, particularly, and you know, you are getting teased. I played in high school basketball. You know, they used to play the Andy Griffith theme song, and, and say, "Miss it, Opie," when I was standing at the free throw (line). It's funny now…I'm with you, I'm laughing. But not when you're 16 with acne.