Ron Howard reveals the most difficult shot of his career and how his dad made it harder

Ron Howard visited The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Wednesday and revealed the most difficult shot of his career. The Oscar-winning director is known for creating immersive shots in his films, like Backdraft, Rush and Cinderella Man, but he said Far and Away contained, by far, the hardest shot.

The film, which stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, featured a historically accurate land race. The Land Run of 1893, also known as the Cherokee Strip Land Run, opened a little more than 8 million acres of free land in what is now Oklahoma. Over 100,000 people took part in the land race, which was signaled by the firing of cannons.

"We had 750 people and horses lined up," Howard said. "We were going to fire a cannon. We had 13 cameras – two in the air, cameras dug in everywhere, and we were going to have this land race, and of course, it's dangerous."

Director Ron Howard and father Rance Howard (R) arrive for the premiere of his new film
Director Ron Howard and father Rance Howard in May 2005. (REUTERS/Fred Prouser)

Even though the film showed Cruise and Kidman riding horses, they were filmed separately. The massive stunt was shot without any actors because the stunt coordinator thought it was too dangerous. However, Rance Howard, Ron's dad, who was from Oklahoma, made it clear he wasn't about to miss the reenactment.

"He says, '100 years ago, I had three ancestors who rode in this race. 100 years later, my son, my firstborn, is directing a movie about it. I'm acting in it.'" Howard said. "I just said, 'Dad, get your horse.'"

Despite being 68, Rance Howard was a great rider and fancied himself a bit of a cowboy. He rode through the stampede of horses and wagons and came out no worse for wear.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.

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