From Ron Howard's MasterClass

Frost/Nixon: Read-through & Staging Rehearsal

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.

Topics include: Read-through • First Staging Rehearsal


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.

Topics include: Read-through • First Staging Rehearsal

Ron Howard

Teaches Directing

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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...

Direct your story

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.


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I loved the class! My goal is to immediately apply what I have learned in this class to my own in progress film efforts. If I ever get to meet Ron someday, I would feel a lot better being able to personally thank him for taking the time to provide this class. I am truly grateful. My personal story is still in progress and I hope the world is ready for that which is yet to come.

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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.

Deborah S.

That was fabulous to observe. Seems I would have made the same choices Mr. Howard did. Woo-Hoo- I still have great instincts.

Elizabeth B.

To Ron Howard I send my heart...Wow! Not only are you a great director, you are a great teacher teaching directing. Thanks so much!

A fellow student

Ron is very intuitive....the principal actor think is a little bit cardboard....

Juan M.

THIS lesson was worth the price of admission! I love the way Ron builds the scene by letting the actors explore the staging and making refinements along the way- pushing and pulling emotion, timing, and placement. Fantastic lesson!

Kevin B.

As a late bloomer trying to get my toe wet in the industry and someone who want's to be the best director I can be, watching Mr. Howard direct this first rehearsal for me, was a great visual on the process of the role between director and talents. And I also want point out out that all actors did an awesome job IMHO, but I was particularly impressed with the actor playing Frost in this rehearsal.