Lily Gladstone Salutes Ron Howard at Variety’s Welcome to Cannes Party

Lily Gladstone took a break from jury duty at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday to present Ron Howard with Variety’s Profile in Excellence Award.

Howard was the guest of honor at the annual Welcome to Cannes Party, hosted in partnership with the Gotham Film & Media Institute at Lucia Beach, where an array of industry veterans — including The Gotham’s Jeffrey Sharp, Focus Features’ Jason Cassidy, Disney’s Keleigh Thomas Morgan, the Sundance Institute’s Eugene Hernandez and more — donned their best beach chic attire (with sunglasses) to mix, mingle and sip rosé.

“It’s rare that a director speaks to you at two fully different stages of your life,” Gladstone said, pointing to “Willow” and “Arrested Development” as pieces of entertainment that helped shape her childhood and college years. “I want you to narrate my life.”

Howard granted that wish as he took the stage, slipping into “Arrested Development’s” voiceover voice to thank Gladstone.

“And so, after a remarkable introduction, by the lovely Lily Gladstone, Ron found himself staring out at the crowd and recognizing you better read his freaking speech,” he said, much to her (and the crowd’s) delight. Switching back to his natural timbre, he thanked her directly: “Your lovely new voice and talent in this industry much needed and much appreciated.”

While accepting his prize, Howard said his first trip to Cannes was for “Willow’s” premiere. Thirty-six years later, he’s returned with the documentary “Jim Henson Idea Man,” which premiering as part of the Cannes Classics lineup before hitting Disney+ May 31.

Howard also paid tribute to George Lucas and the late Roger Corman, who helped shape his career – Lucas by casting him in “American Graffiti” and Corman by backing his directorial debut “Grand Theft Auto.”

“I wouldn’t be here it can today without both of these gentlemen, these giants,” Howard said. “George recognized and supported my ambition to be a filmmaker. … At that time, the idea of somebody somehow graduating from American TV sitcoms into becoming a filmmaker — Well, that was pretty ludicrous. No one had ever really done anything like that. People didn’t take the notion seriously, but George did.” About Corman, he added: “I’m not going to go through the list of young men and women that Roger gave a chance to, but I was thrilled to join those rank. I learned lessons from Roger that I still lean on so he will certainly be missed by all.”

Lucas, Corman and Henson have a particular sensibility in common with each other and with Cannes.

“Cinema is an art form that deserves everything that a creative life has to give it. Cinema deserves a willingness to take risks, to test waters and then to be brave enough to share,” Howard said. “They all share a dedication to rigorously exploring the possibilities of that relationship between creativity and cinema and the viewer. And the way that one can influence the other, as we all hold hands and look to the future.”

Ron Howard and Lily Gladstone onstage during the Variety Welcome to Cannes Party.
Variety via Getty Images

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