Legendary film maker Ron Howard is making a behind-the-scenes return to TV in NBC’s Parenthood, years after finding fame on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days. Married for 35 years, Ron and Cheryl Howard are proud parents to four children – daughters Bryce Dallas, 29, twins Jocelyn Carlyle and Paige Carlyle, 24, and son Reed Cross, 22 – and grandparents to 2 1/2-year-old grandson Theo. Ron opened up to Parade about how he has grown since becoming a father and the profound experience of being a grandparent.
On his personal growth since having children: “Humor is unavoidable. It might not feel funny in the moment, but more often than not there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and you can personally look back and find the laughs in being a parent. I felt pressure about being a father, more pressure than I would have ever imagined — trying to do it right, to be what I should be to my kids. At the same time, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I think I’ve probably learned more and grown more because I’m a father than for any other reason.”
On preparing for the twins: “When we had our first child, it was very manageable. But then we found out that Cheryl was going to have twins and she was in a bed for three or four months and she was going crazy. For the first time in my life, I had to take a lot of extra responsibility at home. At the same time I was trying to get ready to film Cocoon. I had a few times when I had to ask myself, ‘Can I do this? Will I be able to do this?’ And I suddenly realized that I could handle it. I think that was a watershed time in my life both as a parent and as a person.”
On being a grandpa: “My daughter Bryce has a son who’s almost three. And I love being with him. I didn’t remotely understand how profound the experience of being a grandparent is until you become one. It’s interesting, when you become a grandparent you start bumping into other folks who have had that experience. And there’s this sort of wink and a nod like it’s sort of a club or something.”
On if ‘Opie’ helped him parent: “In some ways, Andy Griffith was sort of like a father to me and I guess there were a lot of parenting moments on the series. But, in crunch time, trying to figure out what Cheryl and I should do with one of our four kids, my thoughts would go to my own father and mother and Cheryl’s to hers. I wouldn’t be thinking about what happened on an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.”
On directing his own life: “Directing just suits my personality. When I’m away from the set, I’m not a very controlling person. I have a hard time deciding what restaurant to go to for lunch. But when I direct a film I’m much more comfortable asserting myself and taking control of the situation. I like to be able to make my own decisions and my own mistakes. But I’m never dictatorial. I don’t believe in that single solitary vision. I think of myself more as the coach of a team.”
On returning to the small screen: “There’s more going on in TV and so there are more opportunities to stub your toe along with doing something really special. I think that cable TV series have really been great for the medium because they sort of challenge the more traditional network shows in exciting ways. I love the variety that you find on TV and you can take more risks right now in the current climate than you can in movies.”