‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Is a Role Model for Iconic Director James Cameron

by Matthew Wilson

Fans may recognize Ron Howard for starring on both the classic series “Happy Days” and “The Andy Griffith Show.” But as a director, he’s a role model for the legendary James Cameron.

Cameron hardly needs any introduction. The director has been responsible for two of the highest-grossing movies of all time. The director went from working on the sci-fi series “The Terminator” to “Titanic” to the “Avatar” series. So why does he aspire to be like Ron Howard?

In a MasterClass on filmmaking, Cameron listed Howard as a personal idol of his. Often, Cameron says he’ll put the movie before the feelings of his cast and crew. But Howard always values his cast and crew above whatever project he’s working on. His sets are often great places to work on thanks to Howard’s penchant for caring for his actors.

Meanwhile, Cameron confessed that he can be a bit much to handle. Sometimes, his vision for his films gets in the way of his relationships with others and the collaborative process of filmmaking. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, Cameron realized he needed to make a change. So he tries to follow Howard’s example on his sets these days.

“I aspire, even today, to try to be my inner Ron Howard,” Cameron said. The director continued listing his sins as a director on sets.

“I could’ve listened more,” Cameron said. “I could’ve been less autocratic, I could’ve not made the movie more important than the human interaction of the crew.”

Ron Howard As a Director

Ron Howard has been an accomplished director in his own right. He directed films such as “Willow,” “Apollo 13,” and “A Beautiful Mind” during his career. He’s been a mainstay as a director in Hollywood. But when he was getting his start, Howard was nervous about directing. He asked his “Happy Days” co-star to appear in his first big-budget film. That film was “Night Shift” in 1982.

Howard was nervous that people wouldn’t listen to him as a director.

“Ron asked me to be in his first film for a major studio for Warner Brothers,” Winkler told the Television Academy Foundation. “I thought, ‘Well, I just played the Fonz for ten years, so maybe I’ll play Ron now, I’ll play Richie. So I took [the role of] Chuck in ‘Night Shift.’ Ron Howard was very nervous. Because he was young. He didn’t know if the crew and the cast of that size in a major motion picture would listen to him. Would have respect for him.”

But Howard’s anxiety and fears ended up unfounded. According to Winkler, Howard ended up being a natural on the set of the film. That film led to more, and soon Howard was one of Hollywood’s celebrated directors.