Henry Winkler says he was a ‘damn fool’ to turn down Grease movie role


It wasn’t always the happiest of days for The Fonz.

Henry Winkler sat down with CNN’s Chris Wallace and revealed he’s a “damn fool” for passing on the iconic lead role of Danny Zuko in Grease.

After a decade of playing the legendary character of Arthur Fonzarelli on Happy Days from 1974 to 1984, Winkler wasn’t getting many offers for other inspirational roles.

Then, while working on Happy Days, Winkler was offered the lead role in Grease over John Travolta but turned it down out of fear of being typecast.

“I am a damn fool,” the 77-year-old actor said. “I only realised years afterwards. I thought, I’ve played the Fonz, I don’t want to do it again.”

Passing up the role of the 1950s greaser has weighed heavy on Winkler’s mind.

“I go home … and I have a diet Coke. John Travolta, who has done the movie, goes home and buys a plane.”

Grease became the highest-grossing musical film ever at the time of its release, and in 1979 was the second-best-selling album in the US.

During the film’s run in theatres, it generated over $396 million worldwide and cemented Travolta as a leading man and heart-throb in Hollywood.

Winkler, who won two Golden Globes for his role as The Fonz, has appeared in many other roles including The Waterboy, Holes, and Arrested Development.

Most recently, in 2019 and 2020, Winkler was nominated as Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series for his role as Gene Cousineau in Bill Hader’s HBO hit Barry.

This story originally appeared on New York Post and was reproduced with permission

Originally published as Happy Days star says he was a ‘damn fool’ to turn down iconic movie role

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