"I'd been very surprised by the play, which I'd read, which motivated me to get on an airplane and go and see the production," Howard, who eventually directed the film version of Morgan's play, told reporters in New York.
"When I walked out of the theater, I called (producer Brian Grazer) and I called my agent, and I said: 'I not only want to do it, I'll do it next. I'll commit to making it. I don't need to go through a development process or make it contingent on cast or anything. I want to make this movie.' I think I just felt that it's such a rare piece in that it excels on so many levels. It reached me personally, as well."
The director admitted he was surprised by the fact-based play's entertainment value.
"I found it suspenseful. I found it funny. I was hearing the audience respond in a really immediate, involved way," Howard said.
The 54-year-old director said he also found himself reliving the experience of watching David Frost interview former President Richard Nixon on television in 1977.
"I was rediscovering (the interviews by) watching the play, sort of realizing how brilliant a man Nixon really is," the filmmaker said. "Realizing he had a lot of tough decisions to make. ... (Going through in my mind:) 'Did he step down because it was the politically expedient thing to do? Was he forced out by political enemies -- the media. What really went on?'"