Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Ron Howard Was Inspired to Become a Director Due to These Three Films

Ron Howard Was Inspired to Become a Director Due to These Three Films

In his younger days, Ron Howard worked as a child star but he set his sights on bigger things behind the camera. Howard yearned to be a director, that person calling the shots for cast and crew alike. His professional world was relegated to life in front of the lens. As a child actor, Howard wanted to challenge himself by spending his life behind the lens.

He’s accomplished this many times over with different movies. But inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. Howard found three films that delivered inspiring cinematic experiences. The timeframe that these movies popped up on the big screen was around 1967-68, just after the “Summer of Love” took place.

“Then, when I was around 12, I began to fall in love with the movies,” Howard said in an interview with the Harvard Business Review, according to Far Out Magazine. “The Graduate, Romeo and Juliet, Bonnie and Clyde—those films were a bit neorealist, borrowing from Europe, and had anarchy and rebellion that was beginning to emerge in American cinema. It was a kind of cinematic revolution.”

Sitcom Director Helped Stir Ron Howard’s Fire

That’s quite an answer for someone as young as Howard was to be so perceptive. Those three movies had compelling stories to tell. From their being able to stay in the movie fan’s conscience all these years later is a testament to their good work.

Howard also was aware of what one director from The Andy Griffith Show days told him while he was on the set. “One director on that show, Bob Sweeney, expected a lot of me and, in a very loving, respectful way, would take me to task,” Howard said. “He was teaching me, at age eight or nine, the power of concentration and focus.”

Sweeney was one of the show’s busiest directors who, probably, developed a rapport with Howard, Griffith, Don Knotts, and others in due time. It was another observation from a director on the show that also added fuel to Howard’s fire. And we don’t know if Howard is talking about Sweeney or another show director in his comments.

“When I was ten, one of the directors on The Andy Griffith Show said, ‘I see the way you’re looking at the camera and following rehearsals even when you’re not in the scenes, and I have a feeling you’re gonna be a director,’” Howard said.

Child Actor Made Connection With Movies

Seeing those three movies in the late 1960s stirred up a passion for making movies, a far cry from Howard’s involvement in a 26-minute situation comedy. “I related to it, and I loved it, and I began to understand that there was this other thing beyond half-hour sitcoms,” he said. “And the person behind that filmmaking was, first and foremost the director. I wanted to play in that sandbox.”

Eventually, he got a chance to do this. After spending some time in film school, B-movie legend Roger Corman gave Howard his shot. Of course, Howard had to make a deal. Corman would let Howard direct and act in Grand Theft Auto but Howard had to star in Eat My Dust. Howard also pointed out that Corman “launched Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Jim Cameron, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, and me.”

Who says that dreams don’t come true? For Howard, an All-American boy, they sure did. Films like A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Cinderella Man, Hillbilly Elegy, Night Shift, Splash, and Frost/Nixon are among the director’s lengthy resume of work.