Henry Winkler’s Son Helped the ‘Happy Days’ Icon Land His Current Project

by Caitlin Berard

Henry Winkler is now 76 years old and has been acting since the age of 19, meaning the beloved actor has a staggering 57 years of experience in front of the camera. With his more than 150 acting credits, the Happy Days star knows his way around character development.

“Every character is already in you,” Winkler shared in an interview with ABC News. “And then it is your imagination to take what the author says, what people say about you in the script, what the director says, like a dough, you know? And then you, all of a sudden, have a pizza of a character.”

When auditioning for his most recent role in Barry, however, Henry Winkler was instructed to take a different approach – by none other than his son! Winkler’s son, 38-year-old Max Winkler, is now a director himself and has spent the last 16 years building up an impressive directorial resume.

It was thanks to Max’s direction ahead of the audition that Winkler landed the now-iconic role. “He literally directed my audition,” Winkler explained. “I brought home the script, I said, ‘Will you look at it?’ I sat at my desk, he looked at it, he stood over my shoulder, and literally yelled at me! I improvised, he said, ‘Respect the writer.'”

“[Max] said, ‘You know, there’s an exclamation point. You can get a little more angry’. So when I went in, I had a handle on the material.”

Though Henry Winkler has now injected plenty of his own experience and personality into Gene Cousineau, Max Winkler helped his father prove that he understood the direction of the character in the early stages.

‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Reveals He Doesn’t Have a Favorite Character

With as many incredible characters Henry Winkler has played over the years, from The Fonz in the classic TV series Happy Days to Gene Cousineau in Barry, it’s hard to believe that he doesn’t have a favorite. Yet Henry Winkler insists that it’s true. “I love them all,” he explained.

Winkler continued that he feels so lucky to be able to act at all that each and every character he portrays is a fantastic one in his mind. “That I’m living my dream is…” Winkler began. “I’m a very verbal fellow, [and] I don’t have the words to tell you how happy I am.”

Though it’s hard to imagine a Hollywood without Henry Winkler, his career was almost far shorter. After his run as The Fonz on Happy Days, he found it difficult to earn other roles. The Fonz was such an iconic character, and Winkler played him for so long, that he found he had been typecast.

After much effort, however, Henry Winkler broke through the glass ceiling and continued on with his career. His secret? Sheer willpower. “I just kept getting up and moving forward,” he said. “Knocked over, got up, [and] kept moving forward. Because I knew what I wanted.”