‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Director Ron Howard Says He’s ‘Surprised’ By J.D. Vance’s Recent ‘Positions’

by Samantha Whidden
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Following J.D. Vance’s recent win in the Ohio Senate Primaries, “Hillbilly Elegy” director Ron Howard says he’s surprised by the politician’s recent political positions. 

While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Ron Howard stated that he was surprised by some of the positions that “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance has taken and the statements he has made after working with him on the book’s film adaptation. “I always knew he was conservative,” Howard explained. “But [he] struck me as a very center-right, a kind of a moderate thinker.”

Ron Howard also said that J.D. Vance’s book was a family drama based on real events. “There was a lot that I personally related to about the family dynamics, but also the region. The sensibility that I had long been looking for a way to express through a story. It ended with him at Yale and wasn’t ever meant to suggest that he was headed in the direction of politics.”

Directed by Ron Howard, “Hillbilly Elegy” is a story about a call that pulls a Yale Law student back to his Ohio hometown. While home, he reflects on three generations of family history and his own future. The film starred Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, and Freida Pinto. It was released in 2020 through the streaming service Netflix.  

Ron Howard Says He Doesn’t Avoid Film Reviews Anymore 

While continuing to speak to The Hollywood Reporter, Ron Howard stated that he doesn’t avoid film reviews anymore.

“Because I want the collective feedback,” Howard explained. “Critics make up a very specific kind of audience, but they’re an audience. The really interesting thing was the discrepancy between critical response for ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ and audience feedback. You see it happen a lot more with genre pictures, broad comedies, and with some horror films, but I’ve never seen it like this with drama.”

Ron Howard also touched based on his “Star Wars” film “Solo,” which didn’t capture the hearts of devoted fans as he hoped. “There’s a lot I really love about ‘Solo,’ and yet it didn’t hit the zeitgeist when it came to the market. Damn.”

Howard took over “Solo” after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired over “creative differences” with LucasFilm’s Kathleen Kennedy. Around 70 percent of the film was finished. He remembered talking to George Lucas about a project like it. “I’ve been around ‘Star Wars’ forever. He didn’t have a title for it at the time, but while we were shooting ‘American Graffiti,’ George Lucas described what he hoped his next move would be. And he described ‘Star Wars.’

However, Ron Howard admitted that the “Star Wars” franchise took a lot of effort and time. “I’ve always been a fan, yet those projects take about three years and it never made sense for me.”

Outsider.com