Henry Winkler Spills 'Royal Pains' Secrets, Reveals the Only Way He'd Do 'Dancing With the Stars' (Q&A)
THR: Did you ever lose your passion for acting during those years?
Winkler: No. I sometimes allowed myself to be overtaken by the doubt. I make things simple for myself. I literally imagine myself as that toy with sand at the bottom you punch it and it goes right back to center. That is it: You have to get up, dust yourself off and you have to just keep yourself moving forward.
THR: The new season of Royal Pains starts June 29. You came in last year during the second season to play Eddie Lawson, the long-lost father of main characters Hank (Mark Feuerstein) and Evan (Paulo Costanzo). Now this season we meet their grandfather -- your father -- played by none other than Ed Asner.
Winkler: We just shot those scenes [in late May]. It was amazing. The three generations: Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo, Henry Winkler and Ed Asner. It was like we had been doing this forever when we got together. Not just when we did the scenes together but how the two boys played with Ed. He’s so feisty and funny and sharp as a tack. It was just joyful.
THR: Do you have to put yourself in a different mindset to play someone’s son instead of their father?
Winkler: I didn’t because of the way it was written. You know when you go home no matter how old you are you immediately fall back into being a teenager? That’s what happened.
THR: Asner is in his early eighties and still going strong. Can you see yourself still acting in another 15 years?
Winkler: Let me just say unequivocally in large letters: I hope so.
THR: Do you think at point you’ll be ready to do Dancing with the Stars?
Winkler: Never. Not with someone else’s legs. I watch it. I enjoy it.
THR: You could get Ron Howard to do it with you -- a mini Happy Days reunion.
Winkler: I would do it if Ron was my partner. He’s like my younger brother. Listen, I had no idea I would ever put on the leather jacket again until he called me about Obama.
THR: Was that fun?
Winkler: It was amazing. It was surreal. We went back 33 years in about two seconds. I leaned against the car and opened my mouth. And there we were. Not a beat missed.
THR: It’s amazing the affection the Happy Days cast still has for each other.
Winkler: It’s true. I talk to everyone at least a few times a year. We see each other some times. I talk to Marion all the time, I talk to Ron, Don Most.
THR: Some of the other Happy Days stars [Marion Ross, Erin Moran, Most,and Tom Bosley’s estate] recently sued CBS for $10 million claiming they were owed money for Happy Days merchandise, notably slot machines in Las Vegas. You and Ron Howard were not part of the suit. What do you think about it?
Winkler: They’re doing what is right for them. They deserve what they contracted for.
THR: Does it make you uncomfortable to see your likeness on a gambling machine?
Winkler: No. I knew full well going in. I did the voice. I thought if it’s going to exist at least let’s have some control.
THR: What’s the strangest thing somebody ever proposed putting your Fonz likeness on?
Winkler: When we were doing the show they wanted to make underwear for little girls. We nixed that.