‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Admits He Was ‘Dumb’ To Turn Down ‘Grease’

Winkler Grease
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Henry Winkler, who is best known for playing the legendary character of Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli on the sitcom “Happy Days” from 1974 until 1983, is admitting that he was “dumb” to turn down in the hit 1978 movie Grease that eventually went to John Travolta.

‘I Was Dumb’

“I was dumb,” Winkler, 78, told People Magazine. “I spent so much energy, so much time … I spent so many sleepless nights thinking, ‘How do I not get typecast?’”

When Winkler was offered Grease, he was at the height of his fame playing the leather jacket-wearing Fonzie on “Happy Days.” He ultimately turned down the movie because he feared that the role of Danny Zucko, which later went to John Travolta, would result in him being typecast as other characters similar to Fonzie. If he could go back and do it all again, however, Winkler would just take the role.

“You go with the flow,” he continued. “What you do is you prepare to reinvent yourself. You do something completely different and then come back to center.”

“I spent most of my adult life being frightened, on the outside looking like I had it together and mostly being anxious,” Winkler added. “The biggest lesson, I really now believe today in 2023 looking back, is not only must you be tenacious, not only must you be grateful, but you also have to be flexible.”

Related: Henry Winkler Regrets Turning Down John Travolta Role In ‘Grease’ – ‘I Should Have Shut My Mouth’

Winkler’s Advice For Younger Actors

Winkler went on to reveal what he’d tell younger actors for advice.

“You have to take a leap of faith. You have to jump off the precipice and just trust you’re going to fly, because there were so many years I was not hired as an actor,” he explained. “I have a family, I have a house. What am I going to do? And then somebody suggested I become a producer. I start off saying, ‘I can’t do it. I’m dyslexic. I have no idea what the business is. I can’t do it.’ And then finally you say, ‘Oh, just shut up and try.'”

“So I think ‘shut up and try’ might be the most important lesson that I could pass on to somebody,” Winkler concluded.


Related: Henry Winkler Once Dressed As Fonzie To Meet Terminally Ill Child, His ‘Happy Days’ Costar Reveals

Winkler’s Previous Grease Comments

Winkler previously opened up about turning down the Grease role last year.

“I am a damn fool. I only realized years afterwards. I thought, ‘I’ve played the Fonz, I don’t want to do it again. It’s already happened,'” Winkler told CNN.. “I’m already typecast, I should have just shut up and had a really good time making that movie.”

“I go home, I say no, and I have a diet Coke. John Travolta, who has done the movie, goes home and buys a plane,” he lamented.

Good for Winker for being able to admit that he made a “dumb” mistake in his career, as many celebrities would not be humble enough to do that.

Though he regrets turning down Grease, Winkler has still had a greatly successful career in Hollywood that continues to this day, so he can’t kick himself too much! In the end, everything worked out as it was meant to, because it’s hard to imagine Grease without Travolta in it.

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