Henry Winkler isn’t an acting coach, he just plays one on “Barry.” But the Happy Days star is happy to share what he learned during his 50-year acting career. For one, he used to box his bed whenever he didn’t land the role he wanted. Beating up his mattress helped get out his frustration and allowed him to go to the next audition as “an empty vessel.”
He had plenty more for the Vulture Fest crowd earlier this month. Acting hopefuls read monologues and scenes for the icon, and he gave them notes. It’s the second year Henry Winkler has held a workshop with Vulture after the one he did last year was so popular. He also gave them the secret to his success in the entertainment industry: letting go of fear.
“I’m scared all the time,” he said. “I audition. I sit in those metal chairs around the wall waiting to be called. Younger actors will see me and say ‘well you’re Henry Winkler. What are you doing here?’ ‘I’m going to look for a job. You?’ Because it never ends. You leave your fear in that chair when you go in that room. There is no right, there is no wrong. You have a 50/50 shot. Go for the gold.”
He also had a word of warning. If you’re not committed, get out now.
“You are not hired to fill time and space,” he explained. “You are hired for your imagination to fill that time and space. If you do not want to do this job — If you are not burning inside to be an artist, to be an actor, an actress, whatever it is, go and do something else. Because it is so difficult. The waiting is difficult. The rejection is difficult.
Henry Winkler Says He Always Has Time for Fans
Henry Winkler is as cool as The Fonz and as kind of Richie Cunningham. And always tries to be that when he meets fans see him on the streets. He says all actors should give back to their fans. Even if it’s just a small token of gratitude.
He told the Chicago Tribue that it’s a “gift” to meet fans, and he’ll never take them for granted.
“I come there, most people sit behind the table and there’s a table between them and the fan,” Winkler told the paper. “I stand on the other side of the table and meet people. Because if an actor says give me a half-hour or an hour of your time every week for multiple years, and then they come and say ‘Hello’ and you don’t meet them halfway, I think that is bad behavior.”
He said he’s so lucky to have been in so many recognizable roles. And he never knows what fans will want to talk about when they walk up.
“The warmth I receive when people come up and say, ‘I watched Happy Days with my grandmother, it was the time my family had together’ or ohmigosh, Scream or The Waterboy, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, Better Late Than Never, and now Barry. I cannot tell you how it crosses all the lines.”