Ron Howard has paid tribute to Sir David Frost, calling him a television pioneer, whose "audacity and courage" paved the way for a new generation of US television.

frost nixon
Michael Sheen as David Frost in the 2008 film 'Frost/Nixon'

The Oscar-winning director got to know Sir David, who died suddenly last night, when he made the 2008 film 'Frost/Nixon', about the broadcaster's history-making series of interviews with shamed US president Richard Nixon.

Ron Howard told HuffPostUK:

“I can’t say that I got to know him but I enjoyed my meetings with him. One of the highlights that I finally qualified as an appropriate interview subject, and ended up being interviewed by him, so that meant a lot to me.

frost nixon
Ron Howard with Michael Sheen at the UK premiere of the film, which earned five Oscar nominations

“I had so much respect for his audacity, courage in the way he approached his career. He was also, I think, a bit of a pioneer television producer with some of his ideas.

“I think that Nixon broadcast that we made the movie about, the business decision once all the networks had turned him down, to bundle together all the independent stations and still create a major seismic television event in America, proved that a fourth network was viable, and I think that without it there would be no Fox or any of the other networks.

“It was definitely sad news this morning."

david frost
Ron Howard praised Sir David Frost for his "audacity and courage" in bypassing the networks in America

'Frost/Nixon', which was nominated for five Oscars, with Michael Sheen playing David Frost and Frank Langella playing ex-President Richard Nixon, told the story of Frost's determination to secure an interview with the shamed ex-president, his success in sitting him down in front of the cameras in 1977, and finally in unhooking a confession from Nixon that "when the President does it, it's not illegal", thus admitting for the first time to the American public to his part in the Watergate scandal of three years before. He finally acknowledged that he had "let the American people down".

Loading Slideshow...
  • Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards - London

    Sir David Frost, who was awarded the Harvey Lee award for outstanding achievement, arriving for the Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards, at the Theatre Royal in central London.

  • Jack Dee receives honorary degree

    TV personality Sir David Frost poses in cap and gown outside Winchester Cathedral where he has been awarded an honorary degree by the city's university.

  • South Bank Sky Arts Awards - London

    Sir David Frost arriving for the South Bank Sky Arts Awards at the Dorchester Hotel, London.

  • Orient Express: A Personal Journey launch

    Sir David Frost at a photo call on Platform 2 of Victoria Station in London, at the launch the publication of James Sherwood's Orient Express: A Personal Journey.

  • Orient Express: A Personal Journey launch

    Sir David Frost on Platform 2 of Victoria Station in London, at the launch the publication of James Sherwood's Orient Express: A Personal Journey.

  • Sports For Peace - Fundraising Ball - Inside

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 25: Sir David Frost speaks at the Sports For Peace Fundraising Ball at The V&A on July 25, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

  • Charles celebrates 21st anniversary of Amar Foundation

    Sir David Frost (centre) shares a laugh with The Prince of Wales, Patron of the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, during a reception to mark the charity's 21st anniversary, in the Royal Gallery at the House of Lords, central London.

  • Sir David Frost dies

    File photo dated 12/03/2013 of Sir David Frost arriving at the Sky Arts South Bank Awards in London, as the veteran broadcaster has died at the age of 74, his family said in a statement today.

  • Sir David Frost dies

    File photo dated 08/09/2011 of Sir David Frost (left) interviewing British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street in London for Frost Over the World, as the veteran broadcaster has died at the age of 74, his family said in a statement today.

  • David Frost appearing in "That Was The Week That Was"

  • Paul McCartney of The Beatles chats to Television Presenter David Frost at the Savoy Hotel, where the pair were attending the Variety Club of Great Britain Luncheon.

  • David Frost at London Weekend Television's centre on the South Bank, London