Ron Howard Tributes ‘American Graffiti’ Costar Bo Hopkins After His Death

by Caitlin Berard

On Saturday, the sad news of Bo Hopkins’ passing was posted on his website. The veteran actor behind classics such as American Graffiti, The Wild Bunch, and Midnight Express died at the age of 84 after suffering a heart attack earlier this month, as confirmed by his wife.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that Bo has passed away,” the statement read. “Bo loved hearing from his fans from around the world and although he was unable to respond to every email over the last few years, he appreciated hearing from each and every one of you.”

The news of his death was met by shock and grief from fans and colleagues alike. Among them was award-winning actor and director Ron Howard, who starred alongside Bo Hopkins in American Graffiti and spoke very highly of his late friend.

“RIP Bo Hopkins,” the director wrote. “I acted with Bo and directed him as well. He was an honest and authentic actor and more importantly a terrific guy who spoke the truth with kindness and integrity. Those of us who knew Bo can count ourselves lucky.”

Ron Howard Talks Filming ‘American Graffiti’ With Bo Hopkins

Though Ron Howard is now known for his directorial work, he got his start as an actor. After the classic TV series The Andy Griffith Show, a young Ron Howard moved on to Happy Days. And it was during his time as Richie Cunningham that the opportunity to star in American Graffiti presented itself.

The Happy Days star was just one iconic actor to make the cast list of American Graffiti. Ron Howard’s impressive list of costars included Bo Hopkins, Harrison Ford, and Richard Dreyfuss.

Though the film eventually proved to be worth the effort, Ron Howard recalled filming the movie was tough on everyone. Even the director, George Lucas, was so run down producing the film that he once fell asleep mid-take.

“In those days, [George Lucas] was really quiet,” Howard explained to IMDB. “And he was so tired and so exhausted trying to make this complicated, ambitious movie all in nights. He was editing during the day. He actually, sort of said action, and then the scene was over. Everybody looked around, waiting for George to say cut. The poor guy had literally fallen asleep watching the take.”

‘American Grafitti’ Star Ron Howard Describes Antics on Set

Though George Lucas could barely keep his eyes open, the same couldn’t be said for Paul Le Mat and Harrison Ford. According to Ron Howard, the two young stars partied constantly between takes.

“We all lived at this Holiday Inn,” Howard explained. “Paul Le Mat and Harrison Ford were kind of rowdy guys. Paul and Harrison probably never really stopped drinking beers, from Saturday night. Laughing, telling stories, I was laughing with them.”

“And suddenly, they start pitching bottles into the parking lot,” he continued. “I look up and they’re out on the balcony and Harrison yells down, ‘Dance, Opie! Dance!’ and he starts firing beer bottles down there and I’m bobbing and weaving out of there. They never hit me, but they were certainly laughing their asses off.”