Ron Howard Revealed How 1 Family Member Is Linked to His Latest Film, ‘Rebuilding Paradise’

From Splash to Cinderella Man, legendary director Ron Howard has a knack for bringing big stories to life on screen. And film buffs will note that along with his talent for inspiring believable performances from actors, Howard is also a skilled documentary filmmaker.

His latest documentary, Rebuilding Paradise, is surrounded by plenty of positive buzz. Howard stopped by Live with Kelly and Ryan to dish details about the project, and he shared how the topic is closely linked to his immediate family.

Ron Howard
Ron Howard | Natalie Behring/Getty Images for National Geographic

Ron Howard explained what ‘Rebuilding Paradise’ is all about

Inspiring, dramatic, and emotional are all words Howard used to describe Rebuilding Paradise in his interview with Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest of Live with Kelly and Ryan. The official synopsis reads as follows:

On the morning of Nov. 8, 2018, a devastating firestorm engulfed the picturesque city of Paradise, California. By the time the Camp Fire was extinguished, it had killed 85 people, displaced 50,000 residents and destroyed 95% of local structures. It was the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years — and the worst ever in California’s history. Rebuilding Paradise, from Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard, is a moving story of resilience in the face of tragedy, as a community ravaged by disaster comes together to recover what was lost and begin the important task of rebuilding.

Rebuilding Paradise,

Imagine Documentaries in partnership with National Geographic are behind the project.  In the film, Howard highlights how the town has solved problems, addressed the need for water, and began to reconstruct schools to attract residents and restore the community.

Howard has a track record of creating compelling documentaries but says this one is different

Ron Howard
Ron Howard | Natalie Behring/Getty Images for National Geographic

Documentary enthusiasts may remember Howard’s previous successes within the genre. He directed Made in America, featuring entertainment mogul Jay-Z. Howard also made The Beatles: Eight Days a Week and Pavarotti, which were also music-focused films surrounding well-known figures. While Howard is a pro when it comes to documentary filmmaking, he admitted that Rebuilding Paradise was a different animal than he had faced before.

“I’ve been enjoying making documentaries, but I’ve never made one like this serious cinéma vérité documentary where you’re really just exploring a question,” explained Howard on Live with Kelly and Ryan. “And the question was, ‘Can they even rebuild? What is it going to be like?’”

Howard revealed how a close family connection factors into ‘Rebuilding Paradise

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For Rebuilding Paradise, Howard explored a different approach to moviemaking. He also revealed how his family is linked to the overarching theme, giving him a personal connection to the project.

“My mother-in-law lived the last five years of her life in Paradise, California,” Howard reflected during the talk show interview, “So, when that town was devastated by fires in 2018, it was shocking and, suddenly, it was personal. I understood the tragedy of that loss of that community.”

Howard and his crew witnessed first-hand what he calls “tenacity” present in Paradise, California. When talking about the townsfolk, Howard said, “They give us a lot of lessons in how to navigate the world when the rug is pulled out from under you.”

Viewers can attend virtual screenings of Rebuilding Paradise or stream on digital platforms beginning on July 31.