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Friday, May 18, 2018

Ron Howard Brings a Steady Hand to Solo

Written by Jon Williams

We’re now just a week away from the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story into theaters. This will be the second non-trilogy, standalone film in the Star Wars saga, following the huge success of Rogue One in 2016. Like that film, Solo will also dive into the period of time leading up to the events that take place in the original 1977 Star Wars. It will detail the early life of Han Solo, the smuggler turned rebel originally played with such swagger by Harrison Ford, as he meets Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian and embarks on his life on the fringes of society. An impressive lineup fills the cast, and bringing it all together from the director’s chair is Hollywood veteran Ron Howard.

Although he’s just 64 years old, Howard’s career spans nearly six decades itself. It began in front of the camera, of course, including two very high-profile television roles. He began playing Opie Taylor, son of the title character on The Andy Griffith Show, in 1960, when he was just six years old. That ran for eight seasons, and he also played the character in single episodes of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and Mayberry R.F.D., as well as a 1986 reunion movie that was his last significant acting role. In 1974, he began playing Richie Cunningham on Happy Days and served as the main character of that series for most of its run. As with Opie Taylor, he also crossed the role of Richie Cunningham over to Laverne & Shirley.

Those are his long-running and best-known roles, but as a young actor he also made appearances in a number of other popular shows, including The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Dennis the Menace, The Fugitive, M*A*S*H, and The Waltons, among many others. And those are just his television roles. He also appeared in a number of films, such as The Music Man, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, and The Shootist, John Wayne’s final film. In 1973, a starring role in the teenage comedy-drama American Graffiti was Howard’s first encounter with George Lucas’s then-burgeoning Lucasfilm company. He also starred in the 1979 follow-up More American Graffiti, but by then his acting career was winding down.

In 1977, Howard got his first chance to direct a feature film with Grand Theft Auto, a rollicking car chase adventure that he also wrote (with his father Rance) and starred in. His big break in directing was 1982’s Night Shift, a buddy comedy starring Michael Keaton in his first major role and Howard’s Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler. He then went on to bring Tom Hanks to the big screen for the first time in the 1984 romcom Splash, and later directed Steve Martin in Parenthood. While his first few films were comedic in nature, in 1988 he returned to the Lucasfilm fold by directing George Lucas’s fantastical Willow (currently unavailable).

Howard’s career has only continued to grow from there. The 1990s saw him direct such box office hits as Backdraft, Far and Away, Apollo 13, and Ransom. In 2000 he brought the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas to the big screen, and then followed that up in 2001 with A Beautiful Mind, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Director. He was nominated again for 2008’s Frost/Nixon but lost out to Slumdog Millionaire’s Danny Boyle. Other notable directorial outings include the boxing drama Cinderella Man, the Jay-Z music festival documentary Made in America, and the trilogy of Robert Langdon films based on Dan Brown’s bestselling novels: The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Inferno.

Many fans still recognize Ron Howard from his earliest roles as Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham; more currently he may be known as the narrator for the comedy series Arrested Development, which he also produces. But whether it’s in front of or behind the camera, his vast Hollywood experience made Howard the perfect choice to take over the reins of Solo when the film’s original directors departed, bringing his practiced eye to bear on the latest movie from a galaxy far, far away. His most high-profile project to date will have patrons excited to check out more from his filmography, which is well worth exploring in its own right. Click any of the links above to add these movies to your collection, or SmartBrowse his name on our website for a more complete collection of his acting and directing roles.

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