Ron Howard takes child actors seriously
Howard does what he can to level with kids on his sets.
There's a reason why actors can smoothly transition into directing: They've already spent plenty of time on set. The best actors stay engaged throughout the entire production process, observing everything about filmmaking in between takes. Sure, movie stars can retreat to their trailers when they're not needed, but an artist's curiosity is always rewarded.
One Hollywood figure who learned his lessons young was Ron Howard. He's spent a life in show business and readily applied all that he'd acquired during his time as an actor. Because Howard was so young when he joined the cast of The Andy Griffith Show, a career that seems far-fetched to many of us was clearly available to him. Not only was a career in directing possible, but it was actually tangible.
"I feel like that kid who grew up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, and suddenly finds himself playing centerfield in the World Series there," Howard told the Associated Press in 1996. "I'm always pinching myself. Not to be too corny, but I'm getting to do what I want to do now."
One of Howard's best gifts as a director is his empathy. He has walked a mile in every actor's shoes, and so he's able to direct them accordingly.
Reflecting back on his early acting days, Howard remembered a particularly tumultuous production without naming the production. He was 6 years old when they made the movie, and during rehearsal, he was having a hard time crying on command. Howard remembered the director saying, "he was going to have to beat me into crying." Luckily, that wasn't necessary, but lil' Opie remembered the occurrence for the rest of his life. "He didn't, and I didn't think he really would. My dad was there and I figured my dad would punch him out if he tried something."
Those kinds of experiences informed Ron Howard as a director. Obviously, he never threatens to physically harm any of his actors. Instead, he'd go to great lengths to impart some filmmaking wisdom to the young ones on his sets.
"I try to explain what is relatable to them about the scene and help them understand what the character's thinking," he said. However, despite his own successes, Howard refused to let his own children act at such a young age. Although his children obviously had Hollywood in their genes, Howard and his wife Cheryl couldn't commit the time they felt would be necessary to nurture such careers.
"For one of us to go sit on the set and supervise just one of our kids for weeks or months at a time, I think it would be too costly on the other three."
Of course, Howard's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, has since had a remarkable acting career as an adult.