In 2012, Happy Days star Henry Winkler revealed how he came to take on stranger movie and television roles as his career went on.
The Fonzie actor is well-known for his greaser character from his time on Happy Days. It’s arguably one of the most famous characters in American television history. Yet as Winkler’s career went on, he started to branch out quite a bit with the roles he played.
When speaking with Daily Actor in 2012, he opened up about taking on more daring parts. Winkler played a New York City morgue night shift attendant in 1982’s Night Shift. The actor starred as the goofy Coach Klein in the 1998 Adam Sandler football movie The Waterboy. He played foul-mouthed principal Arthur Himbry in the 1996 horror movie Scream.
Winkler also played the Pawnee obstetrician in nine episodes of Parks and Recreation, and the bumbling attorney Barry Zuckerkorn in 30 episodes of Arrested Development. The Happy Days actor has starred in many more films and TV series since, but the interviewer wanted to know what made him decide to take more risks with his roles.
“If I feel it in my stomach, if I think, oh I can do that, I will just say yes. And then the things that don’t sound right to me, I will not participate in,” he explained to Daily Actor.
“But, how lucky? There are so many actors who are sitting at home and I get to do all this wonderful stuff,” he said at the time. “I have a movie coming out in October that is called Here Comes the Boom that is starring Kevin James and Salma Hayek. I do a wonderful show, a more traditional show called Children’s Hospital. And then I do an even more traditional show called Royal Pains, which is a lot of fun. I just came back from New York shooting those episodes. So I live by two words, tenacity and gratitude, and I am filled with both.”
‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Opens Up About How His ‘Heart Races’ at Every Read-Through
The Happy Days star has worked on tons of shows and movies since his time on the hit ’70s sitcom. But he admits he still struggles with read-throughs because of dyslexia. In a 2015 interview with the BBC’s HARDtalk, Winkler opened up about his learning disability that went undiagnosed for years.
The actor had a tough time reading and spelling for much of his early life, but wasn’t sure why. Finally, at 31 years old the actor got some answers when he received news from a specialist that he had dyslexia. Winkler admitted he still struggles with it even today.
That’s when the BBC interviewer flat out asked the Happy Days actor how he copes with read-throughs and auditions. Winkler shared that he learned to live with the embarrassment that accompanied his dyslexia.
“I was embarrassed. Read-through, just to let everybody know, Monday morning we would read through the script for the writers and the producers. They could hear it. It would be the beginning of the rehearsal to make the show that Friday.”
“And you’re struggling to read,” the interviewer chimes in.
“Struggled. Struggle to this day,” Winkler responds.
“So how did you get away with it?” the interviewer asked the Happy Days actor.
“I didn’t,” Winkler responded. “I stumbled, and I was embarrassed. And I learned to live with my embarrassment. I finally said, ‘You know what? This is me, this is how I get through it.’ And my heart races at every read-through ’til this day.”