Kara Warner
April 13, 2018 01:20 PM

Four decades after his breakout role as Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli on the sitcom Happy Days, Henry Winkler is just now becoming the emotionally mature man and actor he’s always wanted to be.

“I am now 72 years old, only recently did I become the actor that I thought about, that I talked about when I was 27,” Winkler tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue (on stands Friday), comparing his emotional evolution to that of a not fully-blended smoothie. “I was so fershimmeled [Yiddish for confused] inside as a human being. Like a fruity blend, so I was still chunky, I never quite got the blend and now, honest to God, not hyperbole not humility, just now I am becoming that smoothie.”

Henry Winkler and Bill Hader in Barry

Henry Winkler and Bill Hader in Barry

How can that be, for someone who’s been so successful for so long?

“Because I’m a late bloomer,” he says. “It took me a long time to emotionally grow up.”

  • For more on Henry Winkler, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

Winkler, who currently stars opposite Bill Hader in their critically acclaimed HBO series Barry, is grateful for every role he gets and still enjoys the audition process.

RELATED VIDEO: Could a Happy Days Reboot Be on the Way? Henry Winkler Weighs In

“No matter who you are or what you’ve achieved in your life in this particular industry, you’re always at the starting line,” he says. “I have loved every minute of [my career]. I am living my dream. I would lie in bed on west 78th street in New York and I would dream. I ate it I slept it, I walked it I talked it, I needed to be an actor and here I am.”

Barry airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.

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