Ron Howard Reveals Tom Hanks Helped Inspire His New Memoir

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)

Ron Howard grew up in the public eye. From The Andy Griffith Show to Happy Days to his time as a director, he’s been famous for decades. But he said he hadn’t given it much thought until his dad died in 2017.

It made him introspective. And as he tried to make sense of it all, he remembered a conversation he had with Tom Hanks. Ron Howard said that discussion sparked the idea for “The Boys,” a memoir he wrote with his brother Clint Howard.

The brothers spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the book and the parts of their lives they found hardest to share.

I had thought about (writing a memoir), and I’d been asked about it. I’d even talked to my friend Tom Hanks about it, he said, “Sure you’ve had a fascinating life, but if you ever do write about it, I would focus on your childhood.” That’s because whenever we’re sitting around on the set, those are the stories he wanted to hear about. He asked the same question so many people have asked me all my life, which is, “What was it like to grow up on television?”

But what really pulled us together was the opportunity to use our past and use those anecdotes that look backwards and all the humor and the nostalgia of that to tell a family story about our very unique parents, and the very unique way in which they helped us navigate — to answer the Tom Hanks question — what was it like growing up on television. It was all about being Rance and Jean Howard’s kids. …

Ron Howard, Entertainment Weekly

The Boys: A memoir of Hollywood and Family releases on Oct. 12.

Ron Howard, Brother Clint Inherited Family’s Farming Roots

In a video posted by his daughter Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard says there’s another universe where his parents never moved to Hollywood. In this world, the Howards stayed in Oklahoma. And maybe Ron would be sitting behind the wheel of a tractor rather than behind a video monitor on a movie set.

Rance and Jean Howard did chase their dreams to Hollywood though. But they carried a piece of the Plains with them.

“We inherited the farmer’s work ethic our folks brought with them from Oklahoma,” Clint Howard says in the video.

They also gave their children stability and a sense of humility. The boys were “working in an industry fraught with more snares and traps” than they realized as children, Ron Howard said. But their parents protected them and kept them grounded.

“Mom and dad managed this feat with remarkable grace” Ron continued, “navigating their boys through terrains, that by all rights, should have left us psychologically damaged…but we somehow made it through intact, ready for the next adventure.”