Interview – Clint Howard

Interview – Clint Howard

Everyone knows the name Clint Howard, but are they truly aware of his accomplishments? For starters, Howard has been acting professionally for over six decades! An extremely lengthy amount of time, he also has credits in well over two-hundred feature films and television series. 
With an expansive resume in different genres, Howard is also beloved by fans in the Horror world for his roles in such films as 1981’s Evil Speak, 1990’s Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation, as well as 1994’s Ice Cream Man. Also remembered for other roles in such films 1995’s Apollo 13, 1997’s Austin Powers, among many others, it is safe to say Mr. Clint Howard has been rather prolific. Still going strong, the veteran actor recently sat down to talk about his incredible acting career, his recent co-starring role alongside Nicholas Cage in The Old Way, plus a lot more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in acting professionally since you were a child. Since that time, you have starred in a long list of television and movies. Briefly tell us, how would you describe this lengthy career you have sustained?

Clint Howard – With a lot of gratitude I am a very blessed man. What has happened to me is something there is no way anyone could ever dream of. To start as a little kid with a great older brother. My brother Ron is a great, great creative man. He’s a much better older brother than he is a creative person, so I have that going for me. Also, my mom and dad are absolutely two of the best human beings who have ever walked the earth; my dad, Rance Howard, and my mom, Jean Howard, who are both gone now.

To be put in that environment, introduced to show business, I took to it, I wasn’t forced. It’s always been a wonderful experience. I’ve always recognized how lucky I am to be an actor. I’ve gone from there. I’ve been a professional actor for sixty-one years!

Cryptic Rock – Wow, sixty-one years is an amazing length of time to be in any career.

Clint Howard – Sixty-one years is a long time to be alive, let alone be in an industry. Listen, I don’t want to put my head in the sand… it’s not all peaches and cream. An actor’s life is filled with insecurities. Things come up in the entertainment business that other industries don’t have to deal with. There is the insecurity of not really knowing where your next job is coming from; I’ve sort of gone past that because of my age and tenure.  That’s one thing about being an actor. When I was in my thirties or forties, although I had started to make a legitimate mark as an adult, when the phone wouldn’t ring for three to five weeks at a time… it is unsettling and it can lead to some bad thoughts.  

Anyway, I navigated through that and I’m in a position now where I am really enjoying life. I’m enjoying life and enjoying working.

Gentle Ben series / CBS television series

Evilspeak movie poster / Moreno Films/ Warner Bros. (1981)

Cryptic Rock – That is a great outlook. You recently took on a role in the new Action Western The Old Way. What was that like?

Clint Howard – It was great to work on The Old Way. Getting to play a cowboy, getting to play an old Civil War veteran who ends up running around with this bad bunch of guys. What more can a guy ask for?

Cryptic Rock – It is a fun role! Let’s digress for a moment. You have done a lot of different genres through the years ranging from Comedy to Horror. You have done a lot of Horror films through the years, including 1981’s Evilspeak. Do you enjoy working in Horror?

Clint Howard – Yea, I like the Horror genre. To be honest, as a viewer, it’s not my favorite type of entertainment. I do know a lot of people love it and I know I have a pretty good Horror sensibility. Evilspeak was my first Horror movie and it was a coming-of-age movie for me. That was a wonderful experience working with the Cinematographer Irv Goodnoff, the Director Eric Weston, and the other actors.

A few years later I worked on a film called Ice Cream Man (1994) which was a hoot too. A matter of fact, the director of the original Ice Cream Man, Norman Apstein, and I are working to make another Ice Cream Man. This time the ice cream man is going to be sixty years old and he’s a completely different guy. It’s going to be a Horror movie, we have drafted a screenplay, and seem to have financing in place, and we are going to shoot sometime in 2023. We are excited about that.

Cryptic Rock – That is very exciting, because fans of the genre loved Ice Cream Man. Also, anyone who may have missed Evilspeak, should check it out, because it is a hidden gem within the Horror realm.

Clint Howard – Well thank you, I believe that too. The premise of the movie is that the Devil lives inside the internet and the computer is an interesting premise. I’m surprised it’s not minded a little more than that.

As far as the other genres, yes, I’ve done straight Dramas and different kinds of Comedy, Horror, and a various mix of Action movies. Comedy is the hardest. Although it seems fun and easy, the problem with Comedy is that you know there are laughs. You know the material is funny, and yet when you are there manufacturing the material, there’s nobody laughing. There is a weird sensation, because there is that insecurity. When you say something you think is funny and nobody laughs, it’s a really weird sensation. On a movie set, nobody’s laughing. You can be doing something that is really funny, but when nobody’s laughing that happens in my psyche. You learn to get through it. I’ve learned to get through it, because I’m somewhat successful at it.

The Horror genre is fun, but sometimes it can get really technical. When you are dealing with blood or dealing with special effects a lot of times it’s about how you’re holding the knife or how the guts are in your hand. (Laughs) It’s not until the very end of the movie when they have added music, sound effects, and they’ve built it all together that you really feel like it’s Horror.

Ice Cream Man movie poster/ A-Pix Entertainment Inc. (1995)

Apollo 13 movie poster / Universal Pictures (1995)

Cryptic Rock – Absolutely, and those are some very interesting insights. As stated, with The Old Way you are working with a Western. How did The Old Way come about?

Clint Howard – I had worked for the Director Brett Donowho years ago on a movie called The Music Within (He was one of the producers of that movie). He had this script and there was this character Eustice that he believed I could do. He reached out and offered me the role. He said, I’m making a Nick Cage movie, and that piqued my interest. I met Nick back in the ‘80s, we never worked together, but we had mutual friends. Nick Cage is one of those guys I’ve always admired; I’ve always admired his acting and I like the cut of his jib.

Of course, I said I wanted to read the script. It was a great little script in my mind. The one thing about The Old Way that I really appreciate is that Ryan Kiera Armstrong is playing Nick’s daughter. Normally this part would be played by a boy and this story is about a boy coming-of-age under the shadow of his dubious father. The fact that they flipped it around and made it a young twelve year old girl was a really smart idea, and she kicked ass! Ryan did a wonderful job in the movie.

Ryan and my daughter became fast, solid friends up in Montana while we were filming. My wife (Kat) and my daughter (Rafa) traveled with me to this movie. Ryan was there, and Rafa was the only twelve year old girl around, so they hung out and became friends. Ryan is a wonderful actress and a great person. I am excited to have had this wonderful opportunity to go toe to toe with Nick Cage.

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a fantastic experience.

Clint Howard – It was a great experience being just north of Yellowstone National Park on a daily basis for a month, and going to those locations as you see. Sion Michel did a great job photographing them, but I will even say he didn’t do those locations justice. It was absolutely breathtaking how beautiful it was. It beats the hell out of shooting in downtown Los Angeles… we were in God’s country!

I also believe the locations are sort of a character in the movie. They are so good to look at, it is almost like having a good-looking movie star in a movie.

The Old Way movie poster / Saban Films (2023)

Cryptic Rock – Yes, the background is amazing. What stands out about this movie is it relies on the story and settings. It is refreshing to see that in an age where CGI has taken over a good portion of all filmmaking.

Clint Howard – Yes! I’m an old school kind of guy. There may be one or two pieces of CG in this movie, like most with all movies. Now there are always little things they can do a lot more inexpensively and quicker in post-production. But the fact is we were out there. We were a long way from home with horses, wagons, that western town, and all the costumes. It was a great experience! I love working on Westerners and I would love to do another one.

Cryptic Rock – Hopefully you will get to. You mentioned you had always wanted to work with Nicholas Cage. He is really a great actor. Some people may not be a fan of his, but he is truly admirable because he takes on any role. It is truly respectable that he does what he wants.

Clint Howard – Yes, he has an enthusiasm about his craft and he takes it really seriously. Listen, he’s been outstanding in so many movies, I’ve always been a big fan of his. I met him running around in the ‘80s and I liked him as a person. He’s got a great process.

The one negative thing about working on The Old Way was I was a bad guy and he was a good guy. That said, the only day that we actually worked together was the day he actually killed me. (Laughs) I appreciate him so much. I’ve always been an admirer of him on the screen. Now I can say I’ve watched him act in person and I got to be on the set with him. He is every bit the pro and a hall of fame actor. Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Guarding Tess (1994), to something as broad and nutty as Face/Off (1997)… Nick just scores! We talked a little bit about it when we were working together, he is fully committed to continue to act.  That’s one thing about actors, the actors that love it, we love to act. I want to keep going and I see myself not retiring.

Austin Powers movie poster/ New Line Cinema (1997)

The Waterboy movie poster / Touchstone Pictures (1998)

Cryptic Rock – That is good to hear. Last question. You being someone with such a vast experience, what are some of the more important things you have learned from working with others?

Clint Howard – Wow, that’s a really broad but good question. Well, one thing I’ve learned is to give myself a break. I can be pretty hard on myself on and off set; wanting to become a perfectionist and wanting to have things work out just right. I learned this from Ed Harris, who is hard on himself too. We were commiserating together and how we both had this scene in Apollo 13 (1995) we could have done better. We were both thinking semantically that we had both been the ones to mess up. As it turned out, no one messed up, it was just us playing games in our brains.  

I have learned to take it easy. Here is another thing I’ve learned from an acting friend of mine. When you are on the set, in the trenches working, you need to set a bar for yourself. You can’t have it be perfect, your brain will not let you say something is perfect. As long as it is within 75% of my expectations, I have to take a breath and go, “That’s good, it’s good enough, let’s move on.” I would tie myself up in a knot if I was trying to aim for 98 or 99%.

The fact is, as an actor, I have a lousy point of view. When I’m on the set working, I’ve got voices in my head, the direction I need to try to follow, the dialogue that I’m trying to articulate and deliver, I can’t stand back and view my performance. I’m in no position to be a good critic of myself. I feel like I haven’t thrown up on myself and I’ve done a pretty good job (meaning I’ve hit around a 75% mark) then I’m good, and let’s carry on.

As life has taught me, I work. Life has taught me that yes, whatever I do I do it ok, because people hire me. With that I will take a breath, be satisfied, and carry on. 

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