- Check out an exclusive new featurette introducing “The French Dispatch” cast above.
- One of the stars, Henry Winkler, told Insider he was typecast after his iconic “Happy Days” role.
- “People would say, ‘Wow, he’s funny. He’s such a good actor. But he was The Fonz,'” Winkler said.
Henry Winkler said he got passed over for comedy roles after “Happy Days” because people still viewed him as The Fonz.
Winkler played the suave Arthur Herbert “The Fonz” Fonzarelli on the popular ABC sitcom for 11 seasons until “Happy Days” came to an end in 1984. The Fonz was known for his iconic leather jacket, slicked-back hair, and charming personality.
While promoting his upcoming movie “The French Dispatch” (where Winkler plays an art dealer), he opened up to Insider about how it was surprisingly difficult to pivot into comedy after his decade-long run as The Fonz.
Winkler said that right after “Happy Days” wrapped, he produced the 1985 TV series “MacGyver.” But when it came to acting roles, he was typecast as different versions of The Fonz after the success of “Happy Days.”
“I sat in my office and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I am having pain in my brain because I don’t have a plan B,'” the actor recalled.
He added that his role on the popular sitcom was what he “dreamed of doing” and once it was over, he didn’t have “the next step” planned out.
“People would say, ‘Wow, he’s funny. He’s such a good actor. But he was The Fonz,'” Winkler continued. “And so they would pass me by. You have to learn to find the strength in yourself to deal with that, reinvent yourself, move on.”
Winkler actively tried to break away from being perceived as The Fonz in the years after “Happy Days.” In 2016, Variety’s Michael Callahan reported that Paramount Studios wanted Winkler to play Danny Zuko in “Grease,” but the actor passed on the opportunity because he wanted to avoid being typecast as the leather jacket-wearing popular guy. That iconic role eventually went to John Travolta.
Ultimately, Winkler told Insider he has no regrets about the way his career has shaped up.
While he may have missed out on a few roles right after “Happy Days” wrapped, Winkler did eventually go on to have roles in popular TV comedies like “Parks and Recreation,” “Arrested Development,” and, more recently, “Barry.”
“If you’re supposed to have it, you will have it. If you’re supposed to get a role, it will come to you. I tried, it didn’t. Sometimes it did,” he said about his acting opportunities over the years.
“If I look back from the time I arrived in Hollywood on the 18th of September 1973, I’ve had a most amazing career,” Winkler added.
The latest role in the legendary actor’s amazing career is in Wes Anderson’s latest film. Winkler plays Uncle Joe in “The French Dispatch” alongside Bob Balaban (Uncle Nick, Joe’s brother) and Adrien Brody (Julien Cadazio, an art dealer and Joe’s nephew).
“The French Dispatch” is out in select theaters on October 22.