Director and actor Ron Howard, who was just 5 when he first played Sheriff Andy Taylor's son, Opie, on "The Andy Griffith Show," talked to msnbc's Andrea Mitchell Tuesday about Griffith's death.
Howard, who went on to play Richie Cunningham on "Happy Days" and then to an acclaimed directorial career in the movies, said that Griffith "created an environment on that set that was very creative, very playful, but extremely disciplined."
Griffith's character evolved from a broader country-bumpkin type into a more nuanced man as the show progressed, Howard told Mitchell.
"The character became a much greater reflection of Andy," he said, noting that as a child actor he was allowed to witness discussions of which jokes were appropriate for the characters and which jokes "were perhaps undercutting the integrity of the characters."
Howard said that on his own films he tries to create a comfortable setting where actors and crew can feel confident and do their best possible work, and says, "Without getting up and making speeches, I try to create that environment, as Andy did."
The actor and director also said he hopes fans will remember the star's entire body of work, including not just "The Andy Griffith Show," but 1980s legal drama "Matlock," the 1957 movie "A Face in the Crowd," his comedy monologues and his music, for which Griffith won a Grammy.
"There's a reason that he's so impactful in so many different mediums and styles," Howard told Mitchell. "And that's because he cared about what he was doing."
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