Producer Ron Howard Discusses "Curious George"

Howard on the Cast, the Film's Tone, and the Appeal of "Curious George"

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Murray, Rebecca. "Producer Ron Howard Discusses "Curious George"." ThoughtCo, Aug. 30, 2016, thoughtco.com/ron-howard-discusses-curious-george-2422820. Murray, Rebecca. (2016, August 30). Producer Ron Howard Discusses "Curious George". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ron-howard-discusses-curious-george-2422820 Murray, Rebecca. "Producer Ron Howard Discusses "Curious George"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ron-howard-discusses-curious-george-2422820 (accessed September 25, 2017).
Producer Ron Howard at the Hollywood Premiere of Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment's "Curious George.". © Richard Chavez

As hard as it is to believe, Curious George - the adorable monkey who loves to go on adventures - has been around for 65 years. Even more difficult to comprehend is that it’s taken six decades for a major studio to produce a full-length feature film about the cute little troublemaker.

Producer Ron Howard and Imagine Entertainment united with Universal Pictures to bring “Curious George” alive on the big screen.

Catching up with two-time Oscar winner Howard (Best Picture and Best Director for “A Beautiful Mind”) at the Hollywood Premiere of “Curious George,” Howard explained why it took so long to bring the monkey to moviegoers and how important it was to show the proper respect to the source material.

Producer Ron Howard on the Delay in a “Curious George” Movie: “It’s really been a function of getting a great story, getting a story that we really believe would entertain adults along with the kids. Also trying to devise and determine what the style was going to be. We went through phases of thinking we’d do it live-action. Then we thought about CG and trying to be more modern in that way. But we kept coming back to the classic look and feel of the H.A Rey books. It was that, and then it was getting the story. Also, I think finding Will Ferrell to be the Man in the Yellow Hat probably pushed us over the edge into believing we would have a movie that would entertain parents along with the kids.”

Ron Howard on Maintaining the Right Tone: A lot of animated films throw in adult jokes meant to go over the heads of kids. “Curious George” doesn’t. Howard said they experimented with the jokes and tone over the years. “It took us 9 or 10 years to make the movie so there was a lot of experimentation with the tone.

You know, one of the amazing things was getting Jack Johnson to come in and do all this music – and he virtually volunteered. I mean, he just loves ‘Curious George’ and always has. So there was something about the purity of that character that we decided we wanted to honor and not try and make it into something that he’s not, and just try to make as entertaining and pure a version of ‘Curious George’ as we possibly could.”

Ron Howard on Bringing George to Life Without a Voice: George doesn’t speak in the series of books or the film and Howard said giving the little guy a voice was never an option. “It was always kind of a given. In fact, the ‘Curious George’ Estate had always insisted on that. It was one of the basic principles of maintaining the status and the nature of the George character. But you know there have been a lot of very funny characters going back to Harpo Marx that didn’t have much to say - and some great characters in animation. So that’s another reason why it was very important to have a funny, explosively entertaining cast.”

Ron Howard on the Input of the “Curious George” Estate: “Not too much beyond a few basic principles. Once they saw that we were adhering to that, we really had all the creative freedom that we needed.

I think they were always comfortable that we wanted to take a classic approach and not a reinvention of the character. So far the feedback’s been great. I think people who have any kind of memory or interest in ‘Curious George,’ I think are going to get a kick out of the movie.”

Howard’s Next Big Project – Directing “The Da Vinci Code:” The day of this interview everything was all about “Curious George” however I couldn’t let Howard off without trying to ask one little tiny “Da Vinci Code” question. Asked how the film’s going, Howard smiled and said, “So far so good.”

Ron Howard Interview Video from the Premiere of "Curious George" - "Play the Video