Tom Hanks Told Ron Howard How to Write His Memoir ‘The Boys’

Tom Hanks has starred in 5 movies directed by Ron Howard. So they’re friends, and Hanks became a director in his own right. When Hanks gave Howard some direction on writing his book, Howard took it to heart. He co-wrote The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family with his brother, Clint Howard.

Tom Hanks and Ron Howard stand together on the 'Inferno' red carpet
L-R: Ron Howard and Tom Hanks | Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage

Clint and Ron Howard appeared on Kate and Oliver Hudson’s Sibling Revelry podcast on Feb. 17 to discuss The Boys. Ron told the story of Hanks encouraging him to write the book, though it took some time for the Howards to finally do it. 

Ron Howard discussed a possible memoir with Tom Hanks on set 

Howard directed Hanks in Splash, Apollo 13 and three Dan Brown adaptations. The last of those, Inferno, came out in 2016.

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“One day I was hanging around, we were shooting or something somewhere,” Howard said on Sibling Revelry. “I was directing Tom Hanks and he’s an author and an avid reader. I said, ‘Tom, people are coming to me and saying I should do a memoir. What do you think? I’m very reluctant.’”

Tom Hanks’ advice changed the course of Ron Howard’s memoir

By the time Hanks made Splash with Howard in 1984, Howard had already had a full acting career and was beginning to direct. Howard was a child actor on The Andy Griffith Show and continued to star on Happy Days. Hanks thought growing up with parents Rance and Jean Speegle Howard would make the best book. 

“He said, ‘You probably ought to one of these days. But, if I were you, I would just do it about your childhood. That’s what everyone wants to know about and that’s what’s really, really unusual about your life. You not only succeeded but you survived.’” Howard remembered. “Of course, he liked hearing those stories whenever we were hanging out.”

It took the death of Ron Howard’s father to motivate ‘The Boys’

Speegle Howard died in 2000. Howard said it was when his father died in 2017 that he and Clint began compiling materials for The Boys.

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We were there, we were at the house in Toluca Lake preparing for Dad’s memorial service, which we’d also done with Dad for mom. Now, there we were looking at photos and so forth and reminiscing a lot about our journey and how much they meant to that and how brilliant they were at the particulars of raising child actors. I told Clint what Hanks had told me, I said, ‘Tom thinks that’s the story, I would never do it on my own, to be honest, but if you wanted to do this with me together, I think we could write about them. We could write about mom and dad and we could also answer that question we’ve heard all our lives in entertaining and honest ways. That might be very unusual.’

Ron Howard, Sibling Revelry podcast, 2/17/21

Clint was on board, but it still took several years to complete. 

“From that point forward I stuck to the idea that I don’t want to do it on my own, but I’d love to do it with Clint,” Howard said. “We sat down, we worked on our book proposal thoroughly for quite a while. When we started to take it around to publishers, I really felt like we were onto something and I think they realized as well. The big thing was, we didn’t have to agree on a damn thing because we were going to each contribute to this. Where there were differences, that would be interesting to people, I thought.”

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