‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Revealed the Biggest ‘Surprise’ of His Career

by Josh Lanier

Ron Howard has been in the entertainment business since before he could read. From Happy Days and The Andy Griffith Show to directing massive blockbusters like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Howard has done a lot. But he knew the biggest surprise of his career without much thought.

Howard was on The Dan Patrick Show in 2015 discussing his life in front of and behind the camera. When Patrick asked what was the biggest surprise of his six-decade career.

Without question, he said, it’s Apollo 13, because he didn’t think Americans cared about space anymore.

“Well Apollo 13 surprised me because The Right Stuff had been out about 12 years before, and it was a fantastic movie, wonderful (and) no one went,” he said. “So, I was making this movie because I loved it, Brian Grazer my (producing) partner at Imagine believed in it, you know. Tom Hanks loved space. We were pals, and here we were on this adventure, but in my heart of hearts I kind of thought you know people don’t care about space. And so when that movie actually turned out to be as commercial as it was in addition to it being well-reviewed and liked that surprise really surprised me. It was a great surprise you love.”

Howard Worried People Would Typecast Him

In his youth, Ron Howard was one of the most sought out after actors of his generation.

“And, you know, because I grew up on TV series, The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days that you mentioned, in between was a failed show starring Henry Fonda called The Smith Family,” Howard said.So from 1960, when I was six years old, to 1980 when I was 26, I was under contract to a television show for like 17-and-a-half out of those 20 years.”

As the years went on, he worried producers would typecast him. And he would be jobless once he aged out of the roles.

“When I knew I was going to have a career as a director,” Howard continued. “It was a dream come true, but the other thing I knew is that I didn’t want to be typecast. I didn’t want to have ‘the brand’ of he does comedy, he does thrillers, or he does quirky, esoteric stuff. I really wanted to be able to work in different genres and different styles, and tell different stories in different ways.”

The conflict of typecasting plagues actors. A smash hit becomes a double-edged sword. The actors gain name recognition, but sometimes audiences refuse to see them as anyone else than their character. Countless actors have discussed the issue, from Howard to The Brady Bunch icon Barry Williams.

Breaking out or fitting in becomes two of the only choices. Fortunately, for the world of cinema, Howard was determined to be a director. And he has been able to make some Oscar-winning films and major blockbusters. And again not wanting to be typecast, he’s bounced around and worked in several different genres during that time also.