“I’ve been seeing a lot of great work on television by directors I admire, young and old. And I had been looking for something I could make a contribution to,” says Ron Howard about helming the first installment of “Genius,” a limited series about Albert Einstein debuting April 25 on NatGeo. In our recent webchat (watch above), he adds, “When I saw this subject and the screenplay for the first hour, I felt it was cinematic, ambitious, and a subject I was really interested in. (It’s) a subject that I had a little experience with from ‘A Beautiful Mind’ in terms of trying to convey on a human interest level the power of the mind, and what discovery can feel like, and also the burden of genius.”
Based on the book “Einstein: His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson, the 10-part program stars Geoffrey Rush as the older Einstein and Johnny Flynn as the younger man. Howard executive produces the entire project with Brian Grazer and directs the first installment. Other stars include Emily Watson, Samantha Colley, Nicholas Rowe, T.R. Knight, and Vincent Kartheiser.
For this year’s Emmy ballot, Howard will also be on the ballot as the producer and director of the documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.” It brought Grazer and Howard a Grammy Award in February for Best Music Film. Along with Oscar wins for “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) and Emmy victories for producing miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” (1998) and comedy “Arrested Development” (2004), they are just a Tony Award away from reaching EGOT status.
Of that possibility, Howard reveals that “Night Shift” is “being workshopped right now for a Broadway musical so fingers crossed that it goes forward. I’m going to try to corner Peter Morgan at some point when he’s finished with ‘The Crown’ and see if wants to let me be part of one of his theater productions. That would be a good leg up. He’s always winning something.”
After an acting career starting at a very young age on “The Andy Griffith Show” and then “Happy Days,” Howard moved into directing movies. One of his biggest early hits was “Night Shift” (1982) starring former co-star Henry Winkler and up-and-coming actor Michael Keaton. Other major films in the past three decades have included “Splash,” “Cocoon,” “Parenthood,” “Backdraft,” “Apollo 13,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Cinderella Man,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Frost/Nixon,” and “Rush.”
Howard was inducted into the television academy’s hall of fame in 2013. He received the National Medal of Arts at the White House in 2003.
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