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If you like Ron Howard's story, you might also like:
James Cameron,
Francis Ford Coppola,
Nora Ephron,
Sally Field,
Peter Jackson,
George Lucas,
Hilary Swank and Robert Zemeckis

Ron Howard's recommended reading: The Name Above the Title

Ron Howard also appears in the video:
Sports, Entertainment & Heroes

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Ron Howard in the Achievement Curriculum section:
Media & The Arts

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Ron Howard
Ron Howard
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Ron Howard Interview

Oscar for Best Director

May 22, 1997
Baltimore, Maryland

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  Ron Howard

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Unlike most people, you grew up in the business that you've made your life's work. I've seen you mingling with students, and you seem to really give to them. Do you relate that to your own early experience?

Ron Howard: I think it's very fortunate that I was exposed to the entertainment business as a child, and taught about it in a really solid way. A lot of children are put in that situation, and they're just a little bit more than trained animals. They look cute, and people want to get a certain reaction out of them, so they goad them, or they bribe them, but the children really aren't really learning how to act. My dad is a very good natural teacher. He really gave me the fundamentals. So I had that going for me.

The environment, particularly on The Andy Griffith Show , was really wonderful and very inclusive. And if there's any reason that I like reaching out and talking to people about what I do, it's because that was very much the environment on The Andy Griffith Show . The actors were really allowed to participate, to contribute. And even as a kid -- I'm talking about six, seven, eight years old -- I was allowed to raise my hand and offer up a point of view about a scene, or changing a line of dialogue, or making something a little bit more natural. I was allowed to participate. And, you know, imagine the sort of self esteem that goes along with being accepted by a bunch of adults. It was extraordinary.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

How did you become interested in directing?

Ron Howard: I became intrigued by what the director did primarily because when I was working on the show -- The Andy Griffith Show -- the actors, they were a blast. I had so much fun hanging around with them. They were interesting, they were smart, they were funny. They were playing practical jokes, then on a dime, they could focus and do great work. And even as a kid, I was impressed with these people. But I also really enjoyed spending time with the crew. They'd let me sit up there and work the camera or learn a little something about sound, how the microphone worked, and placement, and lighting, and things like that. And I enjoyed that time. And, after a while, I realized that the director was the one person who, moment to moment, day in and day out, really got to play with everybody. And the job just started to look very, very good to me.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

The thing that I've also understood is because my father is sort of a freelance actor, a character actor, he's never become a star. He's never had leverage. He's never had power in the industry. But he's always worked, and he's made his living. But it's always a struggle. It's always a struggle. I was always extremely fortunate, but I could see my father struggling in what I view as kind of a noble way, because he's not really getting all the kudos, and the perks, and all the stuff that a lot of people are attracted to the business for. He just liked being a part of it. He liked being a part of it. And that's what I began to understand -- that I was a part of something. And I started to think about what that thing was. What is that process of staging a television show or movie, and communicating with the audience? And it began to be much more to me than just showing up and fulfilling a function because somebody handed me a script. It became an exploration. It became a chance to really keep challenging myself and keep trying to honor this process, this system.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

What kind of formal education did you get? Did you go to school while you were working on all these TV shows?

Ron Howard Interview Photo
Ron Howard: I had a kind of so-so formal education. I wasn't trouble in the classroom, but I was by no means a natural student. I'd spend a little more than half the year being tutored on the set, where I was generally the only kid. If we had other kids in the episode, they'd be tutored for that week. My teacher for eight years, in my own little one-room school house, was Catherine Barton, a great woman who passed away many years ago. She meant a lot to me. She had a great love of literature and reading. I can't say that I really took to it right away, but I'm 43 years old, and every so often -- to this day -- I'll recall something Mrs. Barton said about poetry, or stories, or an attitude that she had about something,

It was a pretty creative environment at The Andy Griffith Show . Also, my father was always writing or conducting an improvisational workshop or something at home, so I was around it all the time. When I did go back to school, it was a major adjustment, because suddenly I was in a classroom. I didn't -- and don't -- process things very quickly. If there was a dictation exercise where the teacher was writing something on the board and we were supposed to copy it down, I'd always be the last one to finish. It wouldn't be terrible, I wouldn't get it wrong, I'd just be last. On top of that I was always the new kid, and not necessarily getting things quite as quickly as everybody else. It was a little nerve-wracking.

The kids tended to -- I wouldn't say ostracize me -- but to make me uneasy because there'd always be two or three weeks where every day at school was more like some kind of a personal appearance where I was at everybody's disposal. And if one group wanted to get autographs, they'd bug me for autographs. If another group wanted to make fun of me, they'd make fun of me. I wasn't a person. I was this sort of image from TV that they now had at their disposal. It was kind of strange.

[ Key to Success ] Courage

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