Ron Howard Talks Pavarotti's Impact and Career at CAA Documentary Screening

CAA Special Screening - PAVAROTTI-Publicity Still-H 2019
Chris Whitaker

Ron Howard's documentary about the iconic opera singer screened Wednesday, allowing audience members to relive Pavarotti's most powerful performances.

Ron Howard shared his feelings of stage fright with the late opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, he told the audience at Wednesday's Creative Artist Agency's screening of the documentary Pavarotti.

As Howard demonstrated in his film, Pavarotti experienced extreme nervousness before performing. Howard said he could relate to Pavarotti, finding screenings "nerve-racking" he told The Hollywood Reporter.

"I'm always anxious because I'm never 100 percent sure how an audience is going to receive the scenes," Howard told THR. "I've learned over the years that you can have a real belief in what it is that you've done, and somehow it's not communicating to people the way you thought."

Film is not only "entertainment through ideas," but also a medium of communication, Howard said. He often has to reconcile what interests him and his understanding of the project with how people receive the film.

Howard and Brian Grazer's company, Imagine Entertainment, worked with Nigel Sinclair and Guy East's White Horse Pictures to produce the film in collaboration with Polygram Entertainment and StudioCanal. Paul Crowder joined the creative team as editor along with Mark Monroe as a writer. Together they took the film through the trial-and-error process of documentary filmmaking.

"People that don't make docs [fail to] realize how much you depend on doing things wrong so you can get it right," Monroe said. "A lot of the writing is in the editing. The shaping of the story — you're learning as you go in terms of what works and what doesn't work."

Even with Pavarotti's large impact, many people still do not consume opera regularly, Monroe added. "We did a lot of exploration into helping audiences understand opera," Howard told THR. "I really wanted to let audiences understand how physical it is. It's almost athletic what [opera singers] achieve."

Pavarotti chose an art form that required "so much discipline," throwing himself completely into his craft, Howard said. To have any success as an artist, a person has to have good taste and the bar has to be very high, Howard added. At the same time, that individual might feel insecure about not living "up to the possibilities of a project." Howard described it as the "yin and yang of living an ambitious creative life."

The biggest takeaway from the film for Howard was that the ambitious person in "the pursuit of excellent relationships, excellent living, excellent work … may find it frustrating," he told THR. "Because if you're that type of person, you may never actually reach it in your mind. But for all the rest of us observers, we're going to say, 'Wow, what a life.'"

The screening for the film, a CBS Films Polygram Entertainment Brian Grazer presentation, was hosted by CAA president Richard Lovett, CAA managing partner and head of music department Rob Light and Universal Music Group chief executive officer Sir Lucian Grainge.

Pavarotti hits theaters June 7.