‘The Andy Griffith Show’: How the Series Led Ron Howard to a Career in Directing

by Joe Rutland

Ron Howard not only started honing his acting skills at a young age on “The Andy Griffith Show.” He discovered a passion for directing.

Yet the way Howard was introduced to the director’s role is quite a story. He talks about it as a guest on the podcast “Smartless.”

Howard remembers the situation occurs in the second season’s second episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

“I had just turned 7 and we were rehearsing,” he said. Howard noted actors Hal Smith, who played Otis the Drunk, Don Knotts, who played Deputy Barney Fife, and Griffith, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor, were in regular clothes since it was rehearsal.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Remembers Director Accepting His Rewrite

He said his job in the scene was to come into the courthouse and say “Hey Pa, somethin’.” But Ron Howard remembers that he hesitated for a minute. Bob Sweeney, who directed that episode of “The Andy Griffith Show,” was a former actor himself.

“‘What is it?'” Howard said Sweeney asked him. “And I said, ‘I don’t think the kid would say the line that way.'” Sweeney asked how Howard thought a kid would say it. Howard pitched his rewrite. He said Sweeney replied, “‘Great, say it that way. Let’s go.'” It left Howard stunned.

“I was a part of it,” Howard said of the creative process. He told “Smartless” hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes that Griffith looked in his direction from across the courthouse.

Howard Becomes ‘Intrigued’ With Process of Being a Director

“Andy said, ‘What are you grinnin’ at young-un?'” Howard said of “The Andy Griffith Show” star. “He actually did talk that way. And I said, ‘Well that’s the first idea of mine you’ve taken.’ He said, ‘Well it was the first one that was any damn good. Now let’s run the scene.'”

Howard said at some point, he realized that it was the director who got to hang with everybody.

“I just became intrigued,” he said.

Intrigued indeed. Howard would go on and star in “Happy Days” but has been quite active as a director in his career, too. Check out some of these Howard-directed movies. “Splash,” “Night Shift,” “Willow,” “Cinderella Man,” and “A Beautiful Mind” among many others.

Ron Howard took his lessons as a young child actor and applied them to his directing abilities. He’s produced some powerful movies in his career and he is not done.