Ron Howard has been working in Hollywood for decades but one thing many fans might not know is that he appeared in the 1976 movie The Shootist, which happens to be the final film of legendary Western star John Wayne. 

Howard got his start in front of the camera on the beloved sitcom “Happy Days” before finding success behind the camera as a director for such movies as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind.

Ron Howard’s Rocky Start With The Legendary John Wayne

Howard recently opened up about his memories of working with Wayne on this movie, and it was an experience that he never forgot.

While he would go on to have a great deal of respect for Wayne, Howard said they didn’t get off to the best start when they met on set.

“I went to meet him with (director) Don Siegal. Somebody had given Wayne that week’s copy of TV Guide. My picture was on the cover. He looked at it, looked at me, and said, ‘Ah, here’s the big shot,'” Howard said to UPI.

“But it turned out my television background was something he really related to because those Westerns were sort of his version of being a television actor,” he added. “He felt like with that kind of background, a person would know how to get it done.”

From there, the two of them quickly bonded. 

Related: John Wayne’s Daughters Hit Back When Cancel Culture Renews Push To Destroy His Legacy

Ron Howard And John Wayne Bond During His Final Film

“[H]e couldn’t have been nicer,” Howard said of Wayne. “He talked a lot about television, about how it’s such a good training ground sort of like the one- and two-reelers Wayne made when he was young.”

“I always admired him as a movie star, but I thought of him as a total naturalist,” Howard told the Huffington Post. 

“Even those pauses were probably him forgetting his line and then remembering it again, because, man, he’s The Duke,” he continued.

“But he’s working on this scene and he’s like, ‘Let me try this again.’ And he put the little hitch in and he’d find the Wayne rhythm, and you’d realize that it changed the performance each and every time.”

Howard delved further into this in an interview with Men’s Journal.

“John Wayne used a phrase, which he later attributed to [film director] John Ford, for scenes that were going to be difficult: ‘This is a job of work,’ he’d say. If there was a common thread with these folks – Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Glenn Ford – it was the work ethic,” he said.

“It was still driving them. To cheat the project was an insult. To cheat the audience was damnable.”

You can watch a trailer for the 1976 American Western film The Shootist starring Ron Howard and John Wayne below.

Praise For The Work Ethic Of Wayne And His Peers

In his lengthy career, Ron Howard has worked with many of the most legendary names in Hollywood.

Aside from John Wayne, he also worked with Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, and Jimmy Stewart, and he said they all had something in common. 

“Here’s the thing they all have in common: They all, even in their 70s, worked a little harder than everyone else,” Howard said. 

Check out some of the best moments of John Wayne working on the set of his final film The Shootist in the video below.

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