What a difference a year makes! Last January, if you’d asked me about Henry Winkler, I would’ve described him as the washed-up guy who played The Fonz on Happy Days and went on to co-star in a few Adam Sandler movies and play the principal in Scream. Sure, he was a scene-stealer on Arrested Development and Parks and Recreation too, but the point was, I believed his best days were behind him. Boy was I wrong! Once I saw HBO’s Barry, my entire idea of Winkler changed overnight, as the character of Gene M. Cousineau made me see him in a completely different light. I called him the “series standout” in my review of the show, and was delighted when he won a well-deserved Emmy months later. In fact, I still can’t believe he lost the Golden Globe to Ben Whishaw. But that’s neither here nor there.
The point is that at 73 years old, happy days are back again for Winkler, whose comeback has culminated in a supporting role in Wes Anderson‘s new film The French Dispatch. Winkler joins a star-studded ensemble that includes (trumpets, please!) Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Lois Smith, Bob Balaban and Steve Park, as well as French actors Léa Seydoux, Mathieu Amalric and Denis Ménochet.
Anderson’s film is the cherry on top of what has been a hell of a year following a rollercoaster career that like many actors his age, has seen its share of ups and downs. If I had to pinpoint one move that helped him get his mojo back, it was Winkler’s decision to sign with Management 360, which saw an exciting opportunity to restore him to relevance and has made good on that promise.
Not much is known about the plot of The French Dispatch, but it is said to be set within the Paris bureau of an American newspaper, which explains why there are several French actors in the cast. Set in the 20th century, the film is also said to feature three storylines, and I can’t wait to find out who Winkler’s scene partners will be. The idea of him working with fellow Anderson newcomers Chalamet and Del Toro is just as exciting as him working with Anderson regulars like Murray, McDormand, Swinton and Wilson.
Indian Paintbrush is financing and producing The French Dispatch, which is expected to debut later this year. It could very well prove to be an awards contender, but even if it isn’t, Winkler will likely return to the awards conversation once the second season of Barry premieres on HBO. After all, not only did he earn an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination, but we’re still waiting to see whether Winkler will take home a SAG Award and a Critics Choice Award. No matter what happens, Winkler’s career resurgence is a welcome thing around these parts, and I look forward to hearing him recite Anderson’s delicious dialogue.
Stay tuned for release dates for The French Dispatch and the second season of Barry. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of Winkler’s casting.