‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Ron Howard Said He Would Consider a Return to Acting

by Josh Lanier
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Ron Howard says he’d someday like to return to acting, but something has always stood in his way. The now-famous movie director and producer started his career in front of the camera but quit more than 40 years ago.

Ron Howard got his start as a 6-year-old in the classic The Andy Griffith Show as Opie, the son of Andy Griffith’s character. After that show ended, he joined another wildly famous and successful show, Happy Days, where he was the main protagonist Richie Cunningham. He was also a movie star. Howard was in George Lucas’ first feature film American Graffiti. But in 1979, Howard starred in his last production, “More American Graffiti,” a sequel to Lucas’ first film.

Since then, he’s focused on directing and producing, and he’s been wildly successful at that as well. He’s led several major motion pictures. Those include Apollo 13, The Paper, Solo, Frost/Nixon, and many others. And he’s won two Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture for A Beautiful Mind. He was nominated for two others, as well.

But he still thinks about returning to acting. He hasn’t because something has always stood in the way. He explained what that is at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

“I’ve even had some opportunities from great directors. The Coen brothers once asked me to do something, but I was doing another movie. And Martin Scorsese, who’s an absolute hero of mine, called me one time to ask if I would want to be in a film. It was a nice role, but I couldn’t do that as well. So far, because I do move from film to film, I never have the time to commit. One of these days, I’m going to make the time.”

He did return to television once, however. He played the narrator in the cult Fox hit Arrested Development. Henry Winkler, who played The Fonz on Happy Days, was a co-star on that show. Howard even made a small cameo as himself in a season finale with his producing partner Brian Grazer. They run the production company Imagine Entertainment.

Ron Howard Made Mom Audition for ‘Apollo 13’ Role

Most of Ron Howard’s family works in the film industry. But that doesn’t guarantee them a spot in one of his movies. In fact, the Hollywood mogul made his mom audition for the role of Jim Lovell’s mom Apollo 13.

His dad asked Ron to consider casting his mom, Jean Speegle Howard, in the role. She had acted in her youth but gave it up to raise her two sons. Ron Howard’s brother Clint is also in television and film.

Ron Howard said he’d consider it, but she’d need to audition. It was an important film, and he wanted to make sure his mother was up to such a demanding role.

“I didn’t want to do it at the office, so I said I’d come by the house and we’d read through the scene,” Howard said at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. “So I came by, and she was nervous. She had a little housecoat and was prepared to do it. And we went through it a couple of times and she made me cry just because I was proud of her as a son and also because I knew that she could do it, and this was an opportunity. And it was just one or two takes on the day of shooting, but it was a great moment.”

Jean Speegle Howard continued acting after that. She had dozens of small film and television roles following Apollo 13 until she died in 2000.

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