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banner Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 17:39 GMT
Howard talks back
The BBC's Sarah Montague met Ron Howard
The BBC's Sarah Montague met Ron Howard
Director Ron Howard has told the BBC's HARDtalk programme about his optimistic attitude to life, claiming it affected his decision to direct the Oscar-nominated film, A Beautiful Mind.

Ron Howard said he chose to direct A Beautiful Mind partly because he liked the way it ended.

"I probably wouldn't have done the story if it had come to a tragic ending, that's true," he told Sarah Montague.

"It's probably just to do with my nature, what I'm interested in putting out to the world," he said.

We decided to tell a story that would express something to the audience and that became our focus

Ron Howard
Howard went on to deny rumours that he romanticised the story of schizophrenic John Nash in order to make A Beautiful Mind suitable for Hollywood.

The film, which documents the mathematician's life as he struggles with mental illness, has recently been plagued by negative stories in the press criticising the film for not being true to the facts.

Howard recently said he suspects a whispering campaign against the film could have been behind reports to discredit the movie.

But he defended himself against the accusation that important elements of Nash's life were left out of the film to make it a great love story.

A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind is tipped to win Best Picture at this year's Oscars
These include the fact that Nash, played by Russell Crowe in the film was divorced by his wife Alicia at one point in their marriage.

"We decided to tell a story that would express something to the audience and that became our focus," he said.

"In reality what happened was [Nash] disappeared at a certain point and went to Europe and was lost to her.

"She didn't really know whether he was alive or dead and during that time she divorced him and tried to move on with her life, and then he came back into her life and she took him back - very romantic, very Hollywood, very powerful, but there was not room for it in our story," he said.


Howard also responded to the fact that allegations that Nash was anti-Semitic and homosexual were also left out of the film, claiming it would have been wrong to base a plot on rumours.

"I think it would have been very irresponsible to force that into the storyline," he said.

However he did admit he used some artistic licence when making the movie.

"It synthesises a lot of facts, it collapses time a great deal and it's very focused on a primary, essential struggle in John Nash's life, which was coping with mental illness, with very little invention," he said.

Ron Howard
Howard has been involved in film and TV since he was 18 months old
"His delusional world is presented to the audience in a way that is not so much clinical but more almost allegorical.

"So there is a great deal of creative licence taken in that regard in terms of the presentation of his disease."

Howard also directed the films Apollo 13 and Splash, but became an international household name in the 1970s playing the all-American teenager Richie Cunningham in the US TV show, Happy Days, which he claims people still remember him best for.


"When people come up and that's the one thing they want to talk about, I think you just can never overcome the power of television," he said.

"There's something about images being experienced day after day in one's home that creates a very surreal bond with the public."

You can hear the HARDtalk interview in full at the following times:

BBC News 24 (times shown in GMT)
19 March 0430, repeated 2230

BBC World (times shown in GMT)
19 March 0430, repeated 1130, 1630, 1930, 0030

Ron Howard
"I probably wouldn't have done the story if it had come to a tragic ending"
See also:

18 Mar 02 | Oscars 2002
Howard hits back at Mind 'smear'
23 Jan 02 | Reviews
Crowe's beautiful film
22 Feb 02 | Reviews
A Beautiful Mind: Your views
23 Jan 02 | Oscars 2002
Ron Howard's happy days
09 Feb 02 | Oscars 2002
Critics' Beautiful debate
13 Feb 02 | Oscars 2002
Crowe 'unsatisfied' with his acting
Links to more Oscars 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more Oscars 2002 stories