Mr. Apple Pie, Ron Howard

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“Horrible!’’ a man wrote. “They would never survive!!!!”

“Of course, he didn’t know it was a true story,” Mr. Howard said, laughing. “So he thought it was sentimental crap. Well, I realized then and there, that’s one of the reasons you do a true story. Because often the behaviors and outcomes are more remarkable.”


Mr. Howard has already directed two music documentaries. The first, “Made in America,” about Jay-Z’s festival in 2012 in Philadelphia, he agreed to do on a whim because his family was out of town. Then he made “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” in 2016.

“I was talking to Paul,” the director recalled, “and he said, ‘Look, I know you have final cut. The only thing is, so much has been made about the difficulties that we had later and they still resonate with me. But it’s only been in the last couple of years that, when I see a photograph of John and I, I just think, man, we were a great team. And we were great friends.’”

Mr. Howard, who is just as interested in ordinary people as extraordinary ones, is making a movie of J.D. Vance’s best seller, “Hillbilly Elegy,” for Netflix. It will star Amy Adams and Glenn Close, and filming is to begin this month in Georgia.

Shortly after our interview, Mr. Howard went to Atlanta to scout locations and the state’s governor, Brian Kemp, signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, spurring outrage. Mr. Howard and Mr. Grazer said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that they plan to go ahead with “Hillbilly Elegy” but will “boycott the state as a production center” if the law goes into effect in January.

“We see Governor Kemp’s bill as a direct attack on women’s rights,” their statement read in part.

About his interest in Mr. Vance’s book, Mr. Howard told me, “I am very concerned about this huge schism and mistrust in the country.”



By Maureen Dowd

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