Ron Howard On His ‘Go-to Mottos’ and How He Chooses His Projects


Ron Howard.
Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

From a child actor to a famous director Ron Howard has a few “go-to mottos” that he leans on in his Hollywood career, which has spanned over six decades.

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“When I’m faced with a really difficult decision, it has to pass the look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the question, the litmus test, ‘Are you gonna be proud of the decision you make?’” Howard, 68, exclusively told Us Weekly. “And the other one is in a chaotic world that [fellow producer] Brian Grazer and I find ourselves in almost every day — problem solving, trying to launch projects, continuing to just really care about what projects Imagine gets involved in and who we work with. I often stop and say, ‘All right, what is my job today? I’m a little overwhelmed. There’s a lot going on. There are many plates to spin. But what can I do today? What’s my job? It’s a simple, fundamental job. It generally serves me well.”

The Happy DaysGrazer, 70, and alum Grazer have been longtime friends. They cofounded Imagine Entertainment in 1985, a film and TV production. The Innovation in Entertainment Award was presented to the pair earlier this month. It recognizes their contribution to the Australian film industry through mentorship and local productions shot in Australia.

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“It was a surprise, a pleasant surprise. It really brings a smile to my face, but that’s the way I feel about so many Australians who I’ve collaborated with over the years and my experiences, which are now broadening beyond working with the Cate Blanchetts and Russell Crowes and Chris Hemsworths of the world,” Howard told Use of the G’Day USA event in L.A. “Screen Australia is this group that we work with and that’s been fantastic. I also shot a movie in Queensland, which was a great experience. Thirteen LivesThe release of, which is expected to be out soon. I’ve also been collaborating with the world class animation studio, Animal Logic, on what is my first animated feature as a director. That’s a co-production with Imagine. This gives you an idea about how deep and extensive these collaborations are. It feels amazing for all of this to add up to an acknowledgement. Unnecessary accolade, but I will happily accept.”

Ron Howard On His Go Mottos How He Chooses His Projects

Ron Howard and Brian Grazer at The 20th Annual Producers Guild Awards.
Peter Brooker/Shutterstock

It’s hard to believe that The Shrinking of Treehorn will be Howard’s first animation film ever. “It’s always attractive to me — a challenge,” he told Us. “We’re perhaps a third of the way into the process and it’s also a musical, it’s my first musical. It ticks quite a few boxes. It was exciting, and I went in with a lot. I’m still very much enjoying it, the animation veterans that I’m working with. I’m also enjoying the musical side of it and the songs as they’re beginning to appear and take their place in our story. I probably wouldn’t have done it without getting to know the Animal Logic teams. They have so many years of experience. Our dedicated storytellers are great to work with. It was a great experience. We’re making it at Netflix. I’m learning on the job but getting a lot out of it. I’m optimistic about where the project’s going.”

For Howard, if he’s “going to direct it or be a hands-on producer,” on a project, it has to “be meaningful” to him in the long run.

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“It really begins with satisfying my curiosity, either creative curiosity, based on who I might be working with, or the themes of the story. Maybe the problem, the crisis that the characters are facing in the world in which it’s unfolding. If my creative curiosity is satisfied, that’s very exciting for me. I have to believe that in sharing this with the audience, there’s something of value for them,” the Oscar winner explained. “The entertainment, certainly. But also, a set of ideas that can be something that could be constructive, whether it’s celebrating a set of ideas or it’s a cautionary tale. That is why I believe in the value and importance of telling stories. And then, last but not least, just from a personal standpoint, it’s who am I going to get to work with and where. It was great fun to work in Queensland. Thirteen Lives. It wasn’t the reason I did the movie, but I wound up having a fantastic experience there and we were able to accomplish a lot.”

The Beautiful MindSince his Richie Cunningham days, director has been a Hollywood staple. Even with his success, he still has advice for his younger self.

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“I would encourage my younger self to not feel intimidated by potential collaborators, no matter how esteemed or how powerful, but to recognize that at its very core, this is a collaborative business. And if any of us as creative people or crew members, if we come prepared and we’re ready to work hard, then those who are more experienced, more established, will embrace that,” he revealed to Use. “I think I probably limited myself creatively through sort of almost a fear of being overwhelmed or embarrassed by certain powerful figures that I had perhaps had an opportunity to work with early in my career and shied away from. If you can distill that into a sentence or two, that’s my advice.”

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