‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Knows Who He’d Want to Play Richie Cunningham in a Reboot

by Craig Garrett

Although no Happy Days revival has been confirmed, the former Richie Cunningham AKA Ron Howard is always thinking ahead. According to the filmmaker and former Happy Days star, he even has a plan for who should replace him if there is a revival. The renowned director recently sat down with his brother, actor Clint Howard. The celebrity siblings interviewed one another for Entertainment Tonight.

During their conversation, Clint brought up the frequently asked question of a possible Happy Days revival. Ron Howard made a surprising suggestion for who he thought would do an excellent job in the role of Richie. “There’s this kid, his career is really taking off so who knows, but let’s just say I think Jack Dylan Grazer would be great,” Howard reasoned. “That is Brian Grazer — my partner at Imagine Entertainment — his nephew. But nepotism aside, I think he’d be great.”

He’d be a cooler, hipper Richie Cunningham,” Howard speculated. “If he was willing to take the job.” It’s understandable why Ron Howard might think Grazer would pass on a Happy Days reboot. Jack Dylan Grazer’s career has blown up in recent years. He starred in both It films, based on the horror novel by Stephen King. Grazer also voiced a lead character in Pixar’s Luca. Of course, Jack Dylan Grazer also entered the world of superheroes. He was one of the leads in 2019’s Shazam.

How Happy Days pushed Ron Howard to become a director

Would a cooler, hipper Richie Cunningham be able to compete with the Fonz? It’s undeniable that Ron Howard’s Richie was the lead of Happy Days. However, Henry Winkler’s Fonzie character became a breakout character. Eventually, Fonzie not only eclipsed Richie but replaced him as series lead. In a 2021 interview on The Graham Norton Show, Howard opened up about the experience.

“The press kept saying: ‘What’s it like? Do you feel that you’ve become a second-class citizen on your own show?’ and these kinds of things,” Howard said. “Which I didn’t feel within the workspace. And I certainly didn’t feel it within our friendship, which endures to this day.” Howard went on to detail that Winkler was the Godfather of all 4 of his children.

Regardless, it may have been a hidden blessing that Ron Howard was displaced on Happy Days. It compelled Howard to move faster to leave the show to direct full time. Meanwhile, Henry Winkler claimed that after Happy Days, it took years to shake Fonzie. The actor was typecast for years before finding success on acclaimed shows like Arrested Development and Barry. “People would say: ‘Wow, he’s funny. He’s such a good actor. But he was the Fonz,'” Winkler told Insider. “And so they would pass me by. You have to learn to find the strength in yourself to deal with that, reinvent yourself, move on.”