In the 1960s, comedy icon Howard Morris joined the cast of The Andy Griffith Show as Ernest T. Bass. Once on set, he met a small child with an unusual interest in filmmaking. The little boy’s name was Ron Howard, and though he showed plenty of acting talent as Opie, the fictional son of Andy Griffith, he was never quite satisfied in front of the camera.
Rather than complete his scenes and then run off in search of fun, Howard Morris noticed that Ron Howard always wanted to stick around set. From producers to cameramen to his fellow actors, the boy would ask questions of anyone who would answer them. He wanted to know how the show was made.
The shrewd actor and director watched Ron Howard carefully for a few years. And when Howard’s interest in filmmaking only grew, he pulled the young actor aside and predicted his future. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ron Howard recalled the interaction.
“I was curious about the camera,” he explained. “I loved listening to the writers talk about rewrites. And I began to see that almost all of our directors had been actors first, among them the great comedy star Howard Morris, who was also an excellent director. When I was about 10, he said, ‘I see you looking around, asking questions. I’ll bet you wind up being a director.'”
Ron Howard didn’t just become a director, he became an excellent director, just like Howard Morris before him. With more than 50 years of directing experience to his name, Ron Howard’s films have garnered an incredible $4.3 billion in box office earnings and two Oscar Awards.
‘Andy Griffith Show’ Star Ron Howard Recalls Thinking He Would Be Fired From His Directorial Debut
Just a little over a decade after Howard Morris’ accurate prediction, Ron Howard began his directing career with Grand Theft Auto, a comedy for which the Andy Griffith Show star acted as both director and leading actor.
Though only 23 years old, Howard was more than ready to step behind the camera. The early days of filming, however, didn’t go quite as smoothly as the new director hoped. In fact, Ron Howard recalled being afraid that Roger Corman was going to fire him.
“The very first day of filming my first movie for [executive producer] Roger Corman, I thought I was going to be fired,” Howard recalled with a laugh. “I was in the movie, and I had co-written it. But I thought I could be fired because I was behind schedule and Roger Corman was infamous for staying on budget and schedule.”
“But I made it through that day. And within a couple of days, I really had my stride and I loved it. From that point on, I thought of myself as a director.”