Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ron Howard talks about Andy Griffith


Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC interviewing Ron Howard (my transcript):

Andrea Mitchell: Today people across America are mourning the death of everyone's favorite sheriff, Andy Griffith. He died today and joining me on the phone is acclaimed director/producer/actor Ron Howard, who played of course Griffith's son Opie Taylor for eight years on the TV series The Andy Griffith Show.
Thank you so much for joining us, our condolences. You said in a statement that Andy Griffith Really shaped your life. You were only 6 years old when you first went on the show.

Ron Howard: (crosstalk) Good to talk to you. I was actually 5 when we we did the pilot for the show.

Mitchell: Wow.

Howard: The show, which was a spin-off of The Danny Thomas Show, and Danny was also an Executive Producer on the series along with Sheldon Leonard. He definitely did professionally, and personally a lot of ways because he created an environment on that set that was very creative, very playful yet extremely disciplined, and it was that simple lesson that I witnessed week in and week out, from the very first episode to the very last when I was fourteen years old, which was if you're doing it, you might as well do it well, and this is an opportunity to be involved in something that could be memorable. Just to respect that. It was never spoken that clearly, but like all great lessons it was observed.

Mitchell: How different was he from the character he played? Tell us about Andy Griffith the man.

Howard: I think the character evolved into something much closer to the real Andy. In the beginning it was everyone's design to do something broader, and a little more country-bumpkinish or something, a little closer to some of his monologues, which were broad and kind of hayseed. But as the show went on, he felt very comfortable becoming basically not providing the punchlines, but being the center of the show and became a much greater reflection of Andy.
Andy was a natural leader, extremely intelligent, a thoughtful guy who loved to laugh, who created a very humanistic kind of environment. So there was never a lot of tension on the set but there was always a sense of professionalism.


Mitchell: In what ways have you modeled your own work and life on that example, and how did he stay a part of your life?

Howard: As a kid I was unbelievably fortunate in that I was really allowed to witness this collaborative creative problem-solving process that Andy allowed. It was amazing - I was allowed to sit around listening to he and the writers talk about fixing the script and improving jokes, and which jokes were appropriate for characters, and which jokes were perhaps undercutting the integrity of characters. The other cast members were also a part of this discussion, and it was just the most spectacular education. But I think I do try to create an environment on the films that I direct where people feel safe, they show up confident, and it's a place to excel. The expectation is we're all there for a reason, and to try and do good work.
So again, without getting up and making speeches, I try to create that environment as Andy did.

Mitchell: It's extraordinary because he had such a big influence on all of us. but to know he had this long and creative and productive life, the person behind all that, is very reassuring.

Howard: I hope he's remembered not only for the Andy Griffith Show but for Matlock, and "A Face in the Crowd," and his music, and even going way back to his first monologues which he did on the radio and the recording studio which are still hilarious. And take a look at the overview, and whether it was comedy or drama, there's a reason he's so impactful on so many different mediums and styles. That's because he cared about what was doing.

Mitchell: Ron Howard, thank you so much. Thanks for joining us today to share your memories of someone with such an important influence in your life. Thank you.

Howard: Well, thank you, pleasure.

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