Ron Howard Says His Wife Has Been In Every Movie He’s Directed Since 11th Grade

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In an interview with PEOPLE, Howard revealed that he always saves a role for his wife, Cheryl Howard, in every film he’s made, even before he became an Oscar-winning director.

During the exclusive interview, they discussed the 40th anniversary of Howard’s cherished romantic comedy, Splash. The film, starring Tom Hanks as Allen Bauer, tells the tale of an unexpected romance with the captivating mermaid Madison, portrayed by the iconic Daryl Hannah.

“Cheryl was there, and [she] makes her usual cameo in the movie,” he remarked about Cheryl’s role in Splash. “She’s been in everything that I’ve ever done since 11th grade in high school.”

Splash marked Cheryl’s debut film credit, but she has also appeared in Howard’s directorial debut, Grand Theft Auto, as well as his acclaimed films such as Apollo 13 and the Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind.

Howard disclosed that Cheryl, along with a few other women, played a crucial role in crafting the happy ending of Splash.

The original ending for Splash, written by Brian Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, and Howard’s longtime business partner Brian Grazer, concluded with Allen helping Madison escape from captivity with the help of his brother and a scientist.

Madison offers Allen a life with her in the ocean, but he’d have to leave his brother behind. Initially, Friedman, Ganz, Grazer, and Howard envisioned Allen choosing family over love. However, Cheryl and other women who reviewed the script disagreed with this ending.

“It was really interesting because all of our wives read the script over a weekend and they all adamantly implored us to change that,” Howard recalled. “They didn’t talk to one another, it was just a spontaneous alignment.”

“We all listened to that, and I was glad that we did.”

Watch the ending scene of Splash below.

How did the couple first meet?

Howard and Cheryl first crossed paths while attending John Burroughs High School in Burbank, California.

He shared with PEOPLE that from the very beginning, he knew without a doubt that she was the one he wanted to spend his life with.

“I met her, and there was never anybody else.”

“She’s unbelievably supportive and always has been,” Howard said of his wife. “Our compatibility has endured through all kinds of experiences.”


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Turns out, Howard proposed to Cheryl three times before she accepted.

Despite an initial rejection due to Cheryl’s desire to prioritize education, they eventually tied the knot on June 7, 1975, in Burbank, California.

Reflecting on their enduring marriage after celebrating their 44th anniversary, Howard emphasized the importance of communication. He said he believes that constructive dialogue and the willingness to address difficult topics have been pivotal in their journey together.


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The Howards share four children: daughter Bryce, twins Paige and Jocelyn, and son Reed.

Bryce has established herself in both acting and directing, appearing in films like Jurassic World and The Help, and directing documentaries such as Dads.

Paige debuted in Adventureland and has since appeared in several films and shows.

Reed pursued a career in golf, offering tips through his website and YouTube channel, and has developed a training aid for golfers.

Jocelyn tends to keep a low profile, occasionally joining her family at public events.


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RELATED: Ron Howard Has 4 Kids – And Each One Looks Just Like Him

Listen to Howard share the funny and unconventional way he proposed to Cheryl below.