‘Happy Days’ Star Anson Williams: How His Relationship With Garry Marshall Came ‘Full Circle’

Anson Williams will be one of the many stars paying tribute to Garry Marshall in the new ABC special airing May 12. HL spoke with the ‘Happy Days’ icon about Garry’s profound impact on his life and more.

Anson Williams, 70, played Warren “Potsie” Weber in the beloved series Happy Days, which was created by the legendary Garry Marshall. Anson, along with his Happy Days co-stars and so many more celebrities who worked with Garry will be paying tribute to the Hollywood icon, who passed away in 2016, in the ABC special The Happy Days of Garry Marshall, which airs May 12. Happy Days was Anson’s breakout role, and he’ll happily credit Garry for making it all happen. “The thing is, how lucky were we as young guys? It’s really lucky to get a hit television show, but even luckier to have this incredible combination of talent,” Anson told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “Having gone behind the camera through the years and directing and all this, you just really learned just how special Garry Marshall was. They just don’t make them like Garry. He had a heart bigger than his shows. Doing a show for Garry, he got into your life. He got into your head as far as taking responsibility for your life. He was very instrumental in inspiring all of us to wear many hats. We’re on the Paramount lot, and he made it into a college. He wanted us to learn writing, directing, and production. He opened up the entire line to educate ourselves. If we wanted it, it was there.”

Prior to Happy Days, Anson had nabbed appearances on other series, but Happy Days was his big break. He talked about the moment in the audition process where he met Garry and how that went down: “When I finally got to the point where I read for Garry, his first question to me was: ‘Do you play baseball?’ I swear to God it was: ‘Do you play baseball?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘Are you good?’ I said, ‘Yeah. I was in the Little League All-Star Game.’ He goes, ‘What position? Thanks for coming in.’ And I got the part.”

Anson noted that Garry loved sports and it was “very important” for Garry to put together a Happy Days softball team. “He felt if we were a team, we would have a much different relationship than just being on a set, that you would always have your teammates’ backs,” Anson revealed. “There were a lot of ex-athletes. Ron Howard is an excellent athlete and Donny Most. If you were an extra and you wanted a line on the show, if you could play ball, you got a line on the show because we needed you on the team. He put together our softball team, and we played in every major stadium in the United States. And then we went on tour for the USO, playing softball games all over the world — Germany, Okinawa. We were there by the China Sea playing ball for all the troops. He was right. We always had our team members’ backs.”

Anson admitted that his greatest memories from his time working on Happy Days wasn’t on the set. “It was on the road with my teammates,” Anson continued. “It was on the road with Garry. It was memories and experiences that you can’t make up. Everyone can go on a soundstage pretty much, but nobody plays by the China Sea in Okinawa together. Nobody has these amazing experiences. No one’s there running and getting warmed up around Yankee Stadium or the Brewers’ Stadium or Dodger Stadium. These are memories. This is special, and that was Garry Marshall. He gave us such exciting forever experiences, and that transcended to the set and the shows, too. We had a better connection, better chemistry, better everything. Happy Days was more than a show. It was an education in life. It was being inspired to be the best you could be and keeping humble. Keeping humble was a big deal with him.”

After Happy Days ended in 1984, Garry and Anson stayed in touch. Anson went on to pursue a directing career. He’s directed shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Lizzie McGuire, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Beverly Hills, 90210, and more. Anson told HollywoodLife that he kept up with Garry “all the time,” and Garry even asked him if his son, Scott, could shadow him on shows. He revealed his relationship with Garry came full circle with Scott. “He [Scott] shadowed me on about 7 different shows. I mean, just one after the other,” Anson said. “I’m actually doing Sabrina and he’s observing. It was not an easy show to do. There were a lot of effects, three cameras, one camera. It was surprisingly complex to do. Paula Hart, Melissa Joan Hart’s mother and executive producer, really liked Scott. By that time, Scott had done some great things. But he’d never had a network show. He never had that break. She said, ‘I’d really like to hire him, but they’re all taken up.’ I said, ‘He can have mine.’ That was the largest payback I could give my mentor Garry Marshall. I felt so honored to be able to be in a position to do that for Scott. I wouldn’t even have had that position if it wasn’t for his father. It’s full circle. By the way, I never told him I did that. He found out, though. I think Paula told Scott, but I never said a word.”

It’s been nearly 40 years since Happy Days ended. Given the amount of reboots and revivals that we’ve seen over the years, it’s surprising that Happy Days hasn’t been tackled yet. Anson admitted that he and Donny actually just had a meeting about rebooting Happy Days. “Don and I had a meeting with CBS Productions because we figured out how to be able to reboot Happy Days,” Anson said. “You can’t get everybody, but we figured out how to do it with Don and I and bring in a lot from that particular platform in a fresh new way that really reboots the show. I won’t get into all the details, but it’s under consideration.”

Why now? Anson explained: “Ten years ago, I would have said no way. Now? It’d be so much fun. It’s a really, really good show. It’s a pretty cool concept. I think it would work incredibly well. I think we’d get a camaraderie around the television set. Again, it all depends on the showrunner. I hope we can at least pilot it to show what it could be.”

As for Anson’s final thoughts on Garry Marshall, the director meant so much to him and Garry’s legacy lives on through him and the other stars he worked with over the years. “Garry Marshall, what a powerhouse,” Anson said. “He’s evergreen. Every generation until the end of existence will know Garry Marshall.”

Source: Read Full Article