Henry Winkler opened up about the crippling emotional turmoil he felt after Happy Days ended: “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Henry Winkler is looking back at some of his unhappier days.
The Barry actor got candid about the challenges he faced following his Happy Days exit in 1984. After spending over a decade as the comb-toting, leather jacket-clad Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli—affectionately known as “Fonzie”—on the hit sit-com, reinvention didn’t come easy.
“There were eight or nine years at a time when I couldn’t get hired because I was ‘The Fonz,'” he shared in a May 8 interview with Today, “because I was typecast.”
The struggle for acting jobs also took a toil on Winkler’s mental health.
“I had psychic pain that was debilitating because I didn’t know what to do,” he shared. “I didn’t know where to find it, whatever it was, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had a family. I had a dog. I had a roof. Oh. My. God.”
However, Winkler has no regrets. “I loved playing ‘The Fonz,'” the 77-year-old said. “I love those people. I loved learning how to play softball. I loved traveling all over the world together with the cast. I would not have traded it.”
He added, “Not only that, but also, I don’t know that I would’ve gotten here if I hadn’t gone through the struggle.”
These days, the Hollywood veteran is also known for his portrayal of acting coach Gene Cousineau in Barry, which is wrapping up its final season on HBO. His character mentors Bill Hader’s fledgling actor Barry Berkman, a role that’s now landed Winkler an entirely new set of fans.
Looking at his life now, Winkler remarked that “it is not easy to find your authenticity.”
“I’ve opened so many doors,” he said. “I’ve found canoe paddles. I found scuba gear. I found unread books. I never found, for the longest time, authenticity, which I now know.”
Calling authenticity the “key to living,” Winkler added that it also helps to take a page from the Fonz himself and stay cool even when the going gets tough.
“Life is more fun than you think it is, than you allow it to be,” he noted. “Don’t worry so much.”
(E! and Today are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)