It's been seven months since Hollywood at last bestowed twin Oscars on filmmaker Ron Howard for producing and directing A Beautiful Mind, yet the experience remains a blur for the artist formerly known as Opie. "Not unlike childbirth, I don't remember much of that now," he tells TV Guide Online. "It was pretty emotionally wrenching.

"I probably feel the joy of that acknowledgement even a little more deeply today than I did immediately afterward," he adds. "At the time, there was a tremendous surge of adrenaline — and it was sustained for quite a while. Now, there's just a real sense of satisfaction that the movie was acknowledged in that way."

Award-show pundits speculated that Howard's triumph was, in part, the Academy's way of making up for lost time. During his 25-year career behind the camera, he never received a single Oscar nomination prior to Mind. In a snub heard 'round the world, the 48-year-old Happy Days alum even failed to secure a nod for 1995's Apollo 13 (which recently was relaunched on IMAX screens).

"I never felt that [Oscar recognition] was a threshold I had to cross in order to be able to grow as an artist or gain credibility in the industry," says Howard, who may reteam with Mind star Russell Crowe on the Depression-era drama Cinderella Man. "I've been fortunate that my career has evolved in such a way that I've been able to work with the people I've wanted to work with and tell the stories I wanted to tell without any awards."

Still, as far as tchotchkes go, the golden boys are pretty freakin' cool. In fact, Howard reveals that his prized possessions even double as mood enhancers — which may explain his decision to display the trophies in his home office. "If I'm having a particularly difficult phone call in which I'm being rejected in some way," he explains, "I can glance up at them and smile."