When he made the leap from TV actor – on the back of his starring role as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days – to film director in his mid20s, it was in search of that familiar boyhood feeling.
“I’ve always used this job to fuel that original sense of adventure I felt. Otherwise I’m a pretty cautious person in life,” he says. “The shows and movies are what opens me up to the world in ways I’d be too timid to embrace.”
Just as he followed in his father’s footsteps, his daughter Bryce is also a successful film and TV actor.
As well as a captivating screen presence, she is famous for a distinct, highpitched and booming laugh.
“You know, she was so quiet as a baby. Really quiet,” Howard laughs.
“One day – she was about 18 months old, I guess – I was on the other side of the house when I heard this shrieking noise. I thought, ‘What is that? Is someone in here?’.
“I rushed over to see Bryce being pulled around on a blanket by our puppy, a terrier named Frisky. She was riding it like a sleigh, laughing her head off.
“It was the first time I heard that big, beautiful laugh. She found her voice that day.” SUNDAY, 7.30PM, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC