As a young star, he found fame as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days. Now one of Hollywood’s biggest directors, he discusses friendship, wildfires and workaholism
While some celebrities spent lockdown in their Malibu beach houses or Beverly Hills compounds, Ron Howard – one of the most powerful and prolific men in Hollywood – spent the first two weeks sleeping in his editing office near his home in Connecticut. The image of Howard living in his workplace fits so well with his public image that it sounds almost storyboarded: the hardworking, humble guy who happens to be an Oscar-winning director (of 2001’s A Beautiful Mind; he was also nominated for Frost/Nixon in 2009. His mother thought, rightly, that he should also have been nominated for 1995’s Apollo 13). Yet Howard’s work-based isolation was not just for professional purposes, but personal ones, too: his wife of 45 years, Cheryl, was sick with Covid-19. He needed to isolate from her, but he wanted to stay close by.
“She had it only mildly, thank God, and so did my daughter Paige, but they were real cases. So I lived in the editing room. When Cheryl felt better, the two of us would go on what I called Victorian courting strolls, staying 10ft away from each other and no touching,” Howard says with a chuckle.