Henry Winkler, who plays dedicated music teacher Marty Streb in the Kevin James comedy "Here Comes the Boom," looks pretty convincing as he conducts a high school orchestra. It turns out, he's had some practice. "Five years ago I got a call, and I was asked to conduct the Boston Pops in Cape Cod on the 4th of July. I didn't realize a piece can be 15, 20 minutes long, and how in shape you have to be. 'Cause you keep thinking okay, now, it's going... and we're still going...
His work with the kids in "Boom" might have been a little more rewarding. "I got to conduct these kids. They're a real orchestra from a high school outside of Boston. Some of them still tweet me, it's so lovely, I can't wait for the movie. But we had to become instantly bonded. I had to be their teacher, instantaneously. I think they were just great."
Winkler, who's been busy behind the camera and in front of it since the '70s, is often called one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. Still, he shrugs off the title. "I'm not sure what that means. I'm not kidding. There are so many lovely people that I've met... It's very nice that people think that; I'm just not sure what this means."
Though "Here Comes the Boom" is focused on MMA fighting, Winkler says he had never had much of an interest in the sport -- at least, not until he shot the film. "It was a channel I went by; now, I watch. I watch Bas Rutten on his show, because every guy that fought Kevin is a real fighter. They came in and you needed a stepladder to shake their hand... They're zen gentlemen when you meet them."
Winkler is a bit of a zen gentleman himself, at least when it comes to putting together his schedule, which requires juggling acting, writing popular children's books and producing. "I don't make a decision. Everything just seems to fall into place. This [movie] opens on October 12th, on November 14th I open on Broadway in a brand new comedy. I'm living, right now, be very careful what you wish for."
And if you call him the Fonz? He won't be insulted. "I don't know if I would be in this movie if I was not the Fonz first. I think that it's related. I think there's a connection. I'm very, very appreciative that the Fonz is in my life." As the Fonz would say, ayyy.