Director Ron Howard gets a second Hollywood Walk of Fame star

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

How Roger Corman Gave Ron Howard His First Big Break.

Roger Corman has earned a reputation over the past five decades for giving countless entertainment figures their first big break before and behind the camera.Ron Howard received his second star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Thursday, honoring a movie directing career that brought him an Oscar in 2002 for “A Beautiful Mind.” Howard is the first person to receive an additional star since 1993 when Bob Hope received his fourth, according to Hollywood Walk of Fame producer Ana Martinez. Among the graduates of the “Corman School” are Oscar winners Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Towne and Jonathan Demme.

Ron Howard joined their number in 1977 after appearing in a car crash action-comedy for Corman’s New World Pictures the previous year called “Eat My Dust!” The picture was a hit, and as Corman recalls, he rang up Howard on the Monday after its debut to let him know about the box office take. And if not, I try to discover that.” In his search to uncover the truths of his stories, Howard has found that his curiosity can bring to light deeper issues that in turn, inform and expand the development of the project in ways beyond simply cementing plot points. “In the greatest situations, you develop more questions than you can actually address,” he says. “You wind up discussing aspects of the human experience that you wouldn’t otherwise have time to (address), and that’s fascinating and sometimes surprising.” Brian Grazer, Howard’s longtime producing partner and co-chairman of their production company, Imagine Entertainment, notes that Howard’s focus resonates with audiences. “The canvas (of a film) always comes first,” Grazer says. “I’ll say to him, ‘Don’t you have to live inside these characters?’ And he’ll say, ‘No, I’m a filmmaker. Loosely based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s non-fiction book, the film recounts the 1820s sinking of the New England whaling ship Essex by a mammoth whale, which in turn inspired Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick. I make movies about stories.’” In investigating the world of the story, Howard gives his characters dimension to breathe and grow into memorable figures — the troubled math genius John Nash in “Beautiful Mind,” the obsessive racers in “Rush,” even the Grinch, whose malevolent exterior hides a wounded heart in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” As Grazer says, “He has a unique skill of bringing his understanding of humanity — that it’s not black and white, but gray — into characters.

Corman would produce “Grand Theft Auto,” which was released in 1977 and which Howard directed, in exchange for starring in “Eat My Dust,” which was released a year earlier. Howard then came to Corman’s office to discuss an inevitable sequel, but with a slight twist: “He said, ‘Whenever a picture is a big success and there’s talk of a sequel, the star always wants more money. That creates multidimensional characters in interesting movies that he’s able to conquer.” Howard’s fascination with storytelling began when his primary career was still acting. He’s the Essex’s first officer Owen Chase who tries to help the shipwrecked crew survive in life boats while the mammoth beast stalks them in the open sea.

Howard directed Tom Hanks in “Apollo 13,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Splash” and “Angels & Demons.” Other memorable Howard-directed films include “Cocoon,” which brought Don Ameche a best supporting actor Oscar, “Dr. He began appearing in films and on television at the age of 5, and found initial stardom as Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show,” which ran from 1960 to 1968.

I’ll take exactly the same deal on the second picture as I had on the first, but I’ll do an additional job for nothing — I’ll direct the picture.’ I said, ‘Ron, I always thought you looked like a director.’” “He was a fine actor, and I knew he’d be able to work with and direct actors,” says Corman. “He’d gone to USC’s film school, and I’d seen his student film, which I thought was very well directed. The role became emblematic for Howard, and he continued to play wholesome young men in “American Graffiti” and on “Happy Days.” As Howard became aware that his acting career was on a singular track, he began looking outside its borders for other means of fulfillment.

Not only did the cast cope with the inclement elements of filming on the ocean near the Canary Islands, they had to go on strict diets to mimic the starvation the sailors suffered. He found it in directing. “Virtually all of the directors on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ had been actors, and my father, (actor) Rance Howard, directed a lot of theater, so that was a natural progression in my mind,” he says. At the same time, Howard was delving deeply into the new American cinema of the period — films like “The Graduate” and “Bonnie and Clyde” and “The Conversation” — which piqued his curiosity. “I began to see these movies could transport you in a way that I never felt from watching a TV show, and a director’s role was at the center of that,” he says. A: They felt guilty over the way they had made a living and felt this was divine retribution, but they also wondered whether they deserved this ferocious punishment.

I’m going to get a cup of coffee — let me know when you’re ready.’ He knew exactly what he was doing, and it showed the crew that they were working with someone who knew what he was doing. I’ve talked to him a few times since then, and he said that he still uses those rules about preparation, even though the budgets on his films are much higher.” It made me wonder if there was an aspect to humanity that even as it engages in brutal behavior, they have to ask the question, ‘Am I crossing some line here?’ I wanted to infuse our story with those questions.” As Howard continues to investigate the human heart in his films, his interest in telling stories draws him to other media.

Efforts to this end include the revived “Arrested Development” for Netflix, documentaries like “Made in America,” about the eponymous music festival founded by Jay Z, and the National Geographic Channel science series “Breakthrough.” “Film is an emotional medium,” he says. “And emotion trumps intellect (in storytelling), but the two have to be there.

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