A little history on Ron Howard

February 21, 2011

in Crew

Photo of Ron Howard at Academy Theatre

We’ve written previously that Ron Howard will be directing the forthcoming film version of Steven King’s Dark Tower series, but for this post I want to give a little taste of who he is and talk about his previous projects.

Ron Howard was born on 1 March 1954 to a family of actors. He began his career as a child actor, starring in the Andy Griffith Show , Happy Days, and in films such as The Music Man. Today, Howard is known as the director of numerous Hollywood blockbusters, among them Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, for which Howard won the 2001 Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director.

Unlike many actors and directors, Howard received his “big break” when he was only six years old. Since his break-through role on the Andy Griffith Show, Howard has continuously been involved with the film and television industry. His personal life is also dissimilar to the notorious lives of many Hollywood stars. He was married at the age of 21 to his wife, Cheryl, and has led the life of a family man ever since. In a 2006 interview, Howard described his “greatest achievement” as follows: “48 consecutive years of steady employment in television and film, while preserving a rich family life.”

Howard’s first credit as director was for the film Grand Theft Auto. Shot in 1977 and co-written by Howard and his father, Rance, this early film is an action-comedy about two young lovers (Howard plays one of them) trying to elope. It received mixed reviews.

After his directorial debut, Howard directed several TV movies, but it was only after the 1982 release of Night Shift, a comedy starring Michael Keaton and Shelley Long, that Howard received full recognition as a director. Before the end of the decade, Howard directed five more major motion pictures: Splash (Tom Hanks), Cocoon, Gung Ho (Michael Keaton), Willow (Val Kilmer), and Parenthood (Steve Martin and Rick Moranis). Howard’s later successes include Far and Away (1992), Apollo 13 (1995) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Cinderella Man (2005), and The Da Vinci Code (2006).

Howard’s diverse background as a director makes him an ideal choice for King’s complex cross-genre story. His experience with fantasy (Willow ), science fiction (Cocoon), American western settings (Far and Away) and psychological drama (A Beautiful Mind) will play heavily in The Dark Tower, and his general familiarity with big-budget films (he’s made about 20 of them) will, no doubt, give Howard the directorial expertise necessary for the successful film rendering of the complex and hefty Steven King story.

Phlox February 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm

I still just can’t see him doing this right.

Aimee February 22, 2011 at 12:28 am

Regardless of what anyone says I am still apprehensive. Honestly, I would be of any director taking on this project. I hope he doesn’t let us down.

stonie104 February 22, 2011 at 8:26 am

Agreed, I might be less worried if Del Toro was behind the camara though lol

Kimber February 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm

It is such a daunting, long term project. I, too, am apprehensive. I think Howard is a great director, but I’d feel better if Peter Jackson was on board (if for no other reason, we’ve seen him tell an epic story the right way).

Lycanthropist February 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm

re: Peter Jackson

Yes we have seen him do a fantasy epic with extreme dedication and finesse. But you have to understand that that was HIS big thing.

Its the same with the LOST crew that bailed on the project.

Both Peter Jackson and LOST Team have already given their whole beings to a project, and then to some extent have gone on to do lesser projects.

Ron Howard has put forth many 5-star movies and yet he still has his big thing left in him.

I hope to that he will do a good job, and I do think he has the capability to pull it off.

But like most of you, I also have my too-high expectations and fan-boy doubts. 🙂

Charlie D. Campion February 24, 2011 at 7:08 am

No choice will make everyone happy. No one will do justice to The Tower for everyone’s satisfaction.

Craig February 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Ron Howard is a brilliant director and tackling the monster that is The Dark Tower series takes some cahonies. I agree with Charlie that not everyone is going to be pleased with any one choice. We read these books because we love them, every DT fan I know is passionate about them. I am a diehard LOTR fan too and though I had my doubts a brilliant director pulled that one off.

Lycanthropist February 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Very true Campion.

such is the nature of the beast

Lycanthropist February 25, 2011 at 9:51 am

The thing that we have to remember is this:

That no matter how the movies come out, the books are still there. The books still live in our imagination.

The movies will provide some visualizations of our favorite scenes, but aside from that I think would be wise to keep our expectations in check and that no movie can live up to the cinema of the mind.

Potatohead February 26, 2011 at 10:06 am

Does anyone remember the feeling you had after Roland opened the top (last) door in the dark tower? I have a really bad feeling this is a huge lead in to the same thing. And Heath Ledger would have rocked that shit as Eddie.

Zooke March 1, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I thinks it’s great that Ron Howard is going to direct. He loves the DT series and is probably one of the best directors out there. Even compaired to the only other epic series, LOTR, this will be unpresented. My only concern is will he (or any other single director) be able to survive this monumental task? Production will probably span several years. One thing is certain, he will do his best.

Lycanthropist March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Some good points @Zooke

i think one of the greatest challenges of the book is going to be Jake.

I mean not a whole lot of time passes in the grand scheme of things, at least Jake doesn’t actually live out that many days within the quest for the Dark Tower.

A year? Two years at most that Jake was at Roland’s side?

That is going to be tough to manage to make whomever plays Jake look like he has only aged a month or two, when its been three years in production…

Think about how different the kids from harry potter looked just three years after their first movie…

gonna be tough.

idub March 2, 2011 at 12:35 am

I think Ron is getting in way over his head. I don’t think he has the right mind or vision to do this epic movie. Lets face it, you are going to have to be a little sick in the head to try and make this kind of a movie.

blex March 3, 2011 at 7:23 am

srsly Lycanthropist , i think they just cut jake as sad as it sounds…

Tet19 March 3, 2011 at 8:46 am

Ron Howard,

Don’t **** this up.

Thanks,
All “The Dark Tower” fans

The Walkin' Dude March 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm

@ blex

Cut Jake? There is absolutely no way they cut Jake. I fully expect some lesser characters to be left out, but to suggest that Jake will be cut is crazy. The formation of Roland’s ka-tet and how they help him reach the tower is an integral part of the story. I don’t see that happening.

Lycanthropist March 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm

@blex

no they cannot cut jake… maybe a bit of rewriting, but no way can they cut jake.

Jake is what humanized Roland. Not Eddie not Susannah, but Jake. That is crucial to the overall plot arc.

Lycanthropist March 5, 2011 at 10:10 pm

or what the walking dude said first lol

Lycanthropist March 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Well lets try to think positively about this anyway…

What is some of y’alls scenes you most want to see on film?

For me Jake’s Drawing is a huge moment that I’ve always wanted to see done.

Roland’s boyhood ka-tet’s defeat of Farson’s men should prove pretty cinematic.

Same goes for the gunfights with Balazar (both in NY AND in ME)

Gmork March 5, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Ok the only way he would be able to really pull these movies off is to have Roland start off with the Horn of Eld then they could change some things without much reprocussion to the story and it would be alright if Jake sort of grows up some.
Also I think book IV should be made as part of the tv series.

Slow Mutant March 6, 2011 at 11:05 am

I want to see the scene when they examine Eddie’s rectum for the drugs, I mean the fist went ALL THE WAY UP TO THE WRIST! I think they would CGI that. Also the scene when that guy feeds the weasel? the contents of the popped zit, I ain’t ever gonna eat mayonaise again!

Slow Mutant March 6, 2011 at 11:21 am

One question for DarkTower readers…how do you pronounce “can-toi”? Is it Kan toe? like on my feet? or Kan twa? as French like? Kan Toy? Kan To-ee?

The Walkin' Dude March 6, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Roland earning his guns is an obvious one.
Pretty much everything in Lud and the ride on Blaine the Mono.
The fight with the wolves.

Lycanthropist March 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Blaine might be something cut…

kmann March 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm

The first time the boys tangle with the big coffin hunters in the bar. Simultaneously following all the characters through Lud.

Slow Mutant March 7, 2011 at 10:50 am

We can not forget the scene when Susan is being examined for “honesty”…hmmmmmmm. Hey, I’ve realized all my favorite scenes involve the fingers poking at the body. Must be Freudian.

DT Fan March 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Cut Jake? Seriously? Cut a main character? What’re you smoking? I’d like some, lol. But honestly, the only way I see this working out is as follows:
The first film will be The Gunslinger and the Drawing of the Three.
The First season TV series will be The Wastelands.
The second film will be Wizard and Glass.
The Second season TV series will be Wolves of the Calla and Song of Susannah.
The Final film will cover the final novel, The Dark Tower.
As for how “can-toi” is pronounced? I believe the only person in the world that knows its pronunciation is Mr. King. I’ve read it as “Kan-Toy” myself though.

Sandra March 8, 2011 at 12:50 am

Although he’s a good director, not too sure about this one. And definetly not excited about the TV series.

TheReadMenace March 8, 2011 at 2:38 am

A scene I’ve been dying to see is when the monster is chasing Roland and Susannah while she rides piggy back down the underground hallway. Those overhead lights coming on in front and turning off behind, first all, then some, then less, then barely any at all… that will be EPIC. I know what happens, and I’m STILL going to be watching through my fingers with my face hidden and my knees drawn up to my chest.

I’m as scared as anyone else about Ron Howard taking over. I’d much prefer J.J. Abrams. While the books will always exist, we all know what effect the movie recreations of LotR and Harry Potter have had on our senses. I’ve read all those books, and it’s now impossible not to picture the actors instead of what my imagination came up with. I only hope that these new movies/TV shows aren’t a complete travishamockery.

Question: Who will play the part of King? I grew up a half hour away from his home, and I even saw him at a Borders book store in Bangor, Maine, while I was reading the seventh book just after it was released (crazy coincidence, eh?). Seeing anyone but him in the movie will be very, very weird for me…

stonie104 March 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

@slow mutant
dude you need help! im only half joking as well…..

@Lycanthropist
Ohhhhh so many good scenes, so little screen time! I have to say I am looking forward to Rolands march through the roses towards the door of the dark tower shouting the names of his friends and family, so much potential……. the camara following Rolands sure but excited walk towards the tower, the camara slowly pans out and behimd roland as he recites the names, after each name his walk becomes more urgent and focused, untill finally Roland almost screams out jake’s name (uncomfortable silence) then almost as a whisper as he crosses the threshold of the tower “my one true son” the door to the tower slams shut behind Roland and …… roll credits! booya!!! excuse me if the qoute is inacurate I dont have the books to hand 🙂

DT Fan March 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

My biggest concern is condensing all the books into 3 movies! What the hell…they will make eight Harry Potter movies, but only 3 DT movies? There are so many parts of the books that can’t be cut, or the whole point of the story will be lost!

dab March 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I think that they can cut minor story lines (like Tull in the opening book) . . . and I seriously wouldn’t mind them cutting the entire “Stephen King” story line. Seriously, if you think about it, they could leave out the entire story line of King’s involvement in the 7-book series, and the story would flow just as well. We’d have the trek to the tower, we’d have the drawing of the Ka-Tet, we’d have Lud, we could leave out Calla Bryn Sturgis and the taking of the kids and the ‘Wolves’ . . . and we’d still have the alternate worlds, and the trips through the doors to the different New Yorks, and Roland’s back-story of his youth in Mejis, we’d still have “Devar-Toi”/”Algul Siento”/”Blue Heaven” & , and the making of the Tet-Corporation and the eventual climbing of the tower . . . and the “ending” (which I actually liked).

dab

TheReadMenace March 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm

@dab: I see your point, but I’m going to respectfully disagree.

Tull might not be vital to the story, but it’s the best way to get a an understanding of part of what it means to be a gunslinger. It shows his brutal, ruthless nature when we first meet him. From that point on, Roland draws his gun twice in either revenge or for self defense and never fires more than a couple shots. After that, he has his misfortunte on the beach and isn’t ever the same. Tull is highly representative; it shows us who Roland is, and it’s also the last time we see him in his prime.

It’s also our first look into what the man in black can do. Ultimately it’s not a motive of why Roland is pursuing him, but it’s an early, and one of very few, examples where we see what the man in black is capable of. They can cut out the Sylvia Pittston part of Tull to shorten that part, but I think Tull is a great place for the movie to start.

As for King… I agree mostly. The story can do mostly without it and still function. I enjoy his role in the books, and it does cast the… origin… of all the characters in a very different light. The biggest plot hole if King isn’t in the story, however, is Jake. What will happen to Jake without the need to save King? They would need to take massive creative liberties in order to resolve that thread of the story.

As an aside, I’m hoping we won’t see Anthony Hopkins when they first arrive in Thunderclap. He was not the man I had in mind when I first read Hearts In Atlantis. I’d always pictured him as Leland Gaunt. I suppose it might have been confusing to see him in HIA and Needful Things as to very disparate characters… still, I always picture him whenever I read about Ted in King’s stories.

Slow Mutant March 10, 2011 at 6:40 am

Great discussions fellow readers! Lots of good insites. What’s the deal with “19”? I’m guessing it was a way for King to tie 19 of his novels and stories together under the Dark Tower umbrella? I’ve just counted the titles that are “Dark Tower related” at the front of the books, but I’m reaching.

TheReadMenace March 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

@Slow Mutant:

It’s weird. I never gave 19 much consideration while I was reading. Took it at face value and never wondered where it might have come from.

Something I thought of is the card game Cribbage. At a certain point when you’re ready to count out how many points you have in your hand, depending on the cards you can have any number from zero to 29 points… except nineteen. The way the scoring system works, it’s impossible to get nineteen. I’ve said many times over that I’ve got “a nineteen hand.” Because it’s not possible, I was saying that I had zero points.

I can’t say for certain since I’ve played a lot of games over the years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I or someone else has said, “This feels like a nineteen hand.” The meaning would be that I’m playing, I’m in the game, but it doesn’t feel quite right. No matter what happens, nothing can be done to gain points (O Discordia!).

…If you were reaching, Slow Mutant, I’m reaching a little further. Still, it’s the first thought that came to me. I know King’s played his fair share of cards, between his references to Hearts to poker to solitare (“Watch me.”) I wouldn’t be surprised if he knows about this phenomenon in Cribbage, but to call it a direct reference is absolute speculation.

Slow Mutant March 11, 2011 at 11:35 am

Thanks Mr ReadMenace (hey I think I just got that! RED Menace? Crimson King?)
The Drawing of the Three uses the shuffling of cards as the structure of the novel. And let us not forget the palaver of Roland with Walter and the Tarot cards. So your card game interpretation could be close. And if “19” is the “zero point” it could symbolically be the “Tower”. The stories revolve around “19” like all things turn towards the Tower.

Potatohead March 11, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I’ve decided to let my penis play Roland,it’s really the only thing awesome enough to bring this character to life. I guess the rest of me could play Eddie,I really think i’ve got the junkie part nailed . I love being me

FUQweef March 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm

in response to cutting jake, he dies 2 or 3 times in the books, how hard would it be to change the actor everytime he dies? with a small rewrite jake could be the same person/soul but in a different body everytime he dies he comes back to roland a little different but the same person

Mutilatedlips March 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Ron seems like the safe choice when it comes to picking a director for this. I just don’t predict him blowing me away and I feel like a the Horror element (love the Dixie Pig) will be lost or severely toned down.
Also, it would be nice if the film opened with The Little Sisters of Eluria.

Potatohead March 16, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Ok,on a serious note,I always pictured Roland older than all the clowns they want to play him ,..more like Randolph Fienes or Bill Nighy(Viktor,in Underworld). right?

CallahanTheDrunk March 22, 2011 at 7:41 am

I really want to see at least a minute montage devoted to callahan the boozer as he recalls his new york escape from the low men. like ‘leaving las vegas’ in 60 seconds.

MsNature April 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

Greetings to the Room!

I am a really big fan of the DT series. I was and am very concerned about every aspect of the film and television versions. Initially, I felt it would be impossible to serve this story well on film.

My early opinion was it would have to be a years long series on HBO. HBO for obvious reasons, network television is tame and lame. HBO has a history of good storytelling and willingness to “go there”. I can just see the Emmy nominations. Writing, acting, set design, music (get RZA!) and wardrobe/costumes.

Also, I was stuck on Clint Eastwood. For the longest time, I felt absolutely sure he would have to be the gunslinger. However, and it saddens me to say this, he is past the age where it would be reasonably possible. 🙁

However, Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortenson are great actors I can see in the film. I think Javier would make a better Roland than Viggo, but a stylist could dye Viggo’s hair and trainers can get him skinny and mean looking. As Eddie, I could see John Leguizamo. He would be great with the jokes and the jerky junkie behavior.

Jake would have to be a tragic looking kid. No Disney actors. Definitely need a newcomer, unsullied by association with anything remotely associated with Nickelodeon, Disney, etc. He has to transition from a sad, emotionally neglected, seemingly schizo rich kid to a gunslinger. Awesome. Need a real serious, seriously talented young actor for that!

Who would play Susanna? Maybe someone as yet undiscovered, no soap opera chicks, we need someone who won’t get campy. I can’t think of anyone young enough. Need a burgeoning Cicely Tyson, that split personality, has to be done right or it will be CORNY. Obviously, CT is like Clint, not age appropriate. But, someone with that level of skill and fire. She also has to be brown, Susanna was not a fair skinned character. Susanna is a bad girl.

As for Ron Howard, he’s good enough. He knows how to tell a story. He better be committed, though, and he better direct fearlessly. DT fans are serious. We all imagine ourselves as gunslingers. Or dark men.

As for the way the film opens, Roland better be chasing the dark man across the desert.

Peace to the room.

Eddie April 22, 2011 at 6:57 am

Sorry i think you should make tommy lee jones the gun slinger his a great acter and i think he would look the part too.

Dan H July 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm

What I enjoy about every movie that Ron Howard directs is that he tells a complete story. Drama when required, nothing over the top.
I have no doubt that he will do an exceptionable job with The Dark Tower, in fact I believe he may turn in the best ever Stephen King movie. We can only wonder what role Clint will play.
As you can guess, I’m a fan.