Film & TV

Frost/Nixon: Read-through & Staging Rehearsal

Ron Howard

Lesson time 20:24 min

A director’s job is to narrow the seemingly endless staging choices. Here, Ron offers a rare opportunity to watch his directorial process in action.

Ron Howard
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Yeah I think we can really figure out what this scene is about, the blocking-- Actors. Hey. Hi, I'm Ron. Brian. Gavin. Trevor. Earl. Pleasure. Nice to meet you. Thanks for doing this today. I'm looking forward to it. We're using a scene from Frost/Nixon, which is a movie I directed. In fact, we have the original shooting script over there. I almost opened it up and looked at the scene that we're going to rehearse today, and then I said, no, let's let it be our scene. What I want to try to do is a kind of an exercise, treating it as though it was a rehearsal day on a movie. I want to try to connect with your thoughts about the character. If you have any questions about it, we'll flesh those kind of things out. Then begin to work on the staging. I'll stage it in a number of ways. So be patient. I may want to stage it from a couple of different perspectives, keeping in mind different factors. Time. You know, there might be a simple way to stage it, and a more ambitious way. We'll explore that. Using lighting. Perhaps different things with ideas with camera work, and so forth. So we'll just work through it. Before we get started reading the scene, which is the way I'd like to start, I'll just kind of explain. When we would shoot it, it would be on a practical location. It would be a real garage, with a little alleyway. When we made the movie, we found a practical location that had those couple of features. So we're sort of emulating that here for our rehearsal space today. [MUSIC PLAYING] Let's see, so who is playing who, again? I am Reston. You're Reston, the journalist. Sam Rockwell played your part. David Frost. David Frost, Michael Sheen. You have an accent? I can try it, if you want. Beautiful. That'll help. That will help. I like it better already. I'm playing Bert. Bert, right. He eventually wound up being a Lord, and ran the BBC for a long time. I'm playing Zelnick. Zelnick. Oliver Platt played your part. OK, great. Well, let's read through it. You guys sort of know roughly where this is in the story. There's just been an interview, an important early interview where Richard Nixon seemed to more or less control the whole thing. He didn't really let David Frost get the questions in that you guys have been preparing. So you're the journalists. You have been preparing David Frost for this vitally important television interview. David comes in, feeling like he's done a hell of a good job. And you guys are very concerned that he's oblivious. So without moving around or anything, let's just read through the scene a couple of times. Crash. Frost, Birt, Reston burst out of the house. What revolution, David? You just let Richard Nixon claim the country was in a state of revolution with protesters bombing...

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Ron Howard made his first film in 15 days with $300,000. Today, his movies have grossed over $1.8 billion. In his first-ever online directing class, the Oscar-winning director of Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind decodes his craft like never before. In lessons and on-set workshops, you’ll learn how to evaluate ideas, work with actors, block scenes, and bring your vision to the screen whether it’s a laptop or an IMAX theater.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I really loved it! To be able to learn from a director like Ron Howard, who is not only a professional in his field, but has been immersed in the filmmaking process most of his life, is a very amazing experience! I was intrigued, entertained, and very educated the whole time.

Where to start? lol Every part of this class was riveting, interesting and informative. I learned so much! I especially loved the practical classes of watching Ron work and how he did it and why he made the choices he did. My adrenaline was pumping after these classes. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Excellent class. Ron has a great no nonsense approach to making movies that I found refreshing.

This class has helped my directing style on so many levels; I don't know where to begin. Every class was a learning experience and I wish to thank Ron Howard for not only giving me years of entertainment on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, but also on the great movies he's directed. And now, I also owe him a debt of gratitude for sharing how he works as a director. I've grown.


Pétainguy M.

I usually film the film making, just to be sure the script is correct. Sometimes, and with times, things appear better than I thought.

Judah H.

Best lesson. Agree with EK Trimble - this is where we get the value out of the material.

Brenton G.

I echo everyone in their praise for this class. It was so helpful to see scene choices be determined through the rehearsal. Two quick questions: 1. What are the names of the actors? 2. Who is responsible for taking notes on adjustments to blocking, acting, and script? It looks like Ron and the actors are making notes...but would a script supervisor be here to make sure all adjustments are accounted for?

Graeme R.

Wow! I have never seen this process, and I am totally awed by the professionalism of the cast and Ron Howard's sensitivity to the nuances of dialogue and position.

Jason D.

These actors were pretty good but, this scene in the original movie....FIRE!!

Chris B.

Really nice to see him build the scene from the ground up. I'm a visual and hands on learner and it's great to see this part of it.

Pirsigs J.

Thrilling to see a great Director in action with this very inspiring lesson. Thank you MasterClass Teacher, Ron Howard.

Charley W.

Wow that was really eye opening. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a director in action like that. It actually made me feel a lot more confident that I could create the short film I’m working on. When you see a final film on screen you think it must be mayhem behind the scenes but Ron makes it flow and really relaxed 👍🏼


This was one of the greatest enjoyed lessons.... I like the development of the scene and characters to feel their role.

Grünenberg R.

Wonderful to see how the space of action of the actors grows with every turn. That makes so much sense! I always thought about those readings as taking place around tables.