Henry Winkler Talks ‘Arrested Development’ Movie & ‘Childrens Hospital’ – Exclusive!

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Chances are, if you own a television, you know Henry Winkler. The legendary actor rose to fame as the iconic “Fonz” on the 1970s series Happy Days, and has since appeared in many films and television series, including the hilarious new Adult Swim series, Childrens Hospital.

Celebuzz got a chance to chat with Henry about his new show, his amazing career and the possibility of there being an Arrested Development movie!

Can you tell us a little bit about Childrens Hospital and your role on the show?

My role is Sy, and I am the administrator of this hospital, that is anarchy personified. It is the wackiest thing I have ever been associated with. They are the smartest, most wonderful people. Rob Corddry, he is brilliant. His partners, David Wain, who also directs, and Jon Stern who writes and produces; they are fantastic. What I’ve learned is that you don’t question, you just do. And I’ve been able to spend time with an extraordinary cast of really funny people. You go home happy.

You’re all comically-minded people, is the atmosphere on set pretty light-hearted?

You know what, comedy is never light-hearted. There is that famous phrase, dying is hard, comedy is harder. To make something funny is a fraction of a second in timing, and it is really thoughtful. We try things a million different ways in order to find exactly the center of the comedy. 

You joined the show in the second season, did you find it easy to adapt to the show’s humor and fit in with the cast right away?

Fit in, definitely, everybody was completely inclusive and warm and wonderful, still to this moment. Finding the humor and understanding exactly that this wasn’t your normal Yogi Bear, that took a minute. Once you find it, you just have a wonderful time.

Your character is disliked by others on the show. Do you enjoy playing that sort of role?

Not anymore, I think that they enjoy making fun of him. But I do, I love my job. I get to do all of these incredibly different things, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this cast.

The show draws so heavily from other medical shows like ER and House. We talked to your cast mates and they said that they weren’t into medical shows, but did you watch medical shows before you started on Childrens Hospital?

I did! I do.

Do you use those shows for your character?

That’s an interesting question, I never thought of that before. The show is so individual, I never think, oh my goodness this is like something I’ve seen. I just see it as its own entity.

What attracted you to Childrens Hospital?

I think it was the team. The idea of being able to work with Rob Corddry, and then I got to meet everybody else and it’s so wonderful to be there with them every day.

I have to ask because we are all big fans, but do you know anything about whether or not Barry Zuckerkorn is going to be on the big screen, will there be an Arrested Development movie?

If there is a movie, I believe everybody said yes. But, Mitch Hurwitz, the mind behind that, the creator, is trying to figure out how to take three and a half years and put it into 90 minutes. That’s what he is working on.

So it is still in the creative stages?

Absolutely. He’s thinking about it all the time. I think he really wants to make it, he just wants to make it be wonderful.

You do a lot of work with education and literacy. What made you so passionate about that cause?

Well, I’m dyslexic. What is really important to me is that every child know that they have greatness in them.

What kind of organizations or efforts are you a part of in this regard?

Well with my partner I have written 17 novels called Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever, that’s what we do. I just came back from England where I was awarded the order of the British Empire for the work that I do there with children who learn differently.

Did you get to meet the Queen?

I am not actually allowed to get the award from the Queen because I can’t pledge my allegiance to her. I almost got it from Prince Charles when he was here in May, but I was not able to because of a filming conflict.

Are there more Hank Zipzer books planned?

No, we finished with 17, but my partner Lin Oliver and I are starting a brand new series which comes out next spring which is called Ghost with the Most. We have written the first of four novels.

Will that have similar themes to the Hank Zipzer series?

Nope, totally different. The underpinning is taking care of each other and bullying.

Any other upcoming projects you’d like to talk with us about?

The only one that I have now is my first adult book that just came out, which is called I Never Met an Idiot on the River which is everything that I learned about fly fishing that I apply to life and the photographs that I took on or in the river. Mostly in Montana, New Zealand, Idaho, Wyoming. Fly fishing is one of my passions.

You’ve done a lot of TV lately, including your role on Royal Pains. Do you prefer TV to making movies?

Television is theater of the fast. I just finished a movie in Boston with Kevin James called Here Comes the Boom. That took about three and a half months, shooting an episode of Royal Pains takes 8 days. Shooting an episode of Childrens Hospital takes two and a half days. But I don’t prefer, I just thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing at the moment.

Childrens Hospital airs on Thursdays at 12 midnight on Adult Swim.

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