Of all the mementos Ron Howard keeps in his Beverly Hills work space, the most eye-catching isn’t an award, it’s a can of beer.
“I did a couple of cameos on The Simpsons that I’m particularly proud of,” Howard says, explaining the tallboy of the cartoon’s fictional brew on his desk. “Don’t try to take my Duff Beer can away from me!”
It’s a whimsical keepsake for the moviemaker to hold on to, but not a surprising one. Howard infuses his work with a sense of joy, evidenced by a banana-emblazoned plaque leaning against his wall. It commemorates another tongue-in-cheek TV role, this time as the executive producer and narrator of Arrested Development.
But make no mistake. When the New Yorker, who keeps homes in Manhattan and Westchester County, inhabits this West Coast office, he’s in workaholic mode. “In Los Angeles, these are intensive work periods,” says Howard, 61, who shares the office space, including a much-used conference room, with his Imagine Entertainment staff. “I wanted an office that was a good environment for story sessions and analyzing the creative components of a project.”
Howard has been working from this 1960s building, which boasts a westward view of Wilshire Boulevard, for more than a decade, using it as a headquarters while making Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code and A Beautiful Mind, as well Formula One action drama Rush.
“I used to think an office needed to be cool, casual and a great place to hang out. Then it became a place to get things done,” Howard says, noting how the space has changed. “This office is for coming into the hotbed that is Hollywood, rolling up my sleeves and getting work done.”
Indeed. Tokens of completed projects—from the Apollo 13 podium to the souvenir baseball caps, a Howard trademark—are everywhere, sprinkled among family portraits and works by Salvador Dalí and Winslow Homer.
Howard also has a taste for decorating with gold. On his desk are Director’s Guild plaques for A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 and an Emmy for Curious George. “I do have a few awards,” he says sheepishly, “but the Oscars are at my house.”