Bryce Dallas Howard
No Formula For Hollywood
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Part 1 of 3
Bryce Howard was registering well over 10 on the excitement meter when during our interview she began riffing on Pete’s Dragon, her new fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and scheduled for release this summer. She keeps soaring from her roles in The Help, Jurassic World and The Twilight Saga— Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. But she’s been on a film set since she was a kid and enjoyed tiny generic roles in Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. Her father just happens to be child actor turned critically acclaimed film maker Ron Howard. So we just let Bryce be Bryce and tried to find out if there truly is a formula for Hollywood.
HL: Which one of your movies are you most
Bryce Howard: I have had so many experiences that make me feel so fortunate and I think I won’t ever have an experience that great again.” And then something like that happens again. The Village… my first film The Help was just that group of women—and we are all so close. And it was a magical summer, an important summer for all of us. And Jurassic as well was one of those idyllic experiences. I had a blast on Twilight. Pete’s Dragon was life changing because we all relocated to New Zealand for the entire time. I was there with the kids for five months and they went to school in New Zealand. We lived on a farm and it was incredible. Wes Bentley and his wife have younger children but the same age as my daughter, so we were all close and would go away on weekends. New Zealand is straight-up utopia. When I think back on Pete’s Dragon, my heart explodes with warmth. It was just such an unique experience.
"What’s exciting about any art form is that there’s not a formula”
HL: Did you wear a wig in Jurassic Park?
Bryce Howard: No. I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to cuts. I’m not at all attached to my hair. My hair was getting longer and I decided that I should get a cut. And my hair stylist, Jason Low, said, “I think you should cut it extreme short.” I had already been cast in Jurassic and I did it without asking, which is a shame on me. But then I showed Colin, and as the director of the movie, he understands how important hairstyle is and that going for a choice that’s a little unique or unusual is better than doing something generic. In a lot of films, folks play it safe because they don’t want it distracting from the story or to become talking points. So that was just what I did in my own private life.
HL: How do you feel about doing your own stunts and
how far would you go?
Bryce Howard: I would go as far as the stunt coordinator recommends is possible and that I feel physically able to do safely. I’ll train for those kinds of things, but what would be too far is if the stunt was genuinely something with a good chance of sustaining injuries. I have so much respect and gratitude for incredible stunt performers whose abilities far exceed my own and couldn’t make certain movies without them. I wish there was an Academy Award for the stunt team who are putting their lives on the line in some cases. It should never come to that point but they are definitely taking on more than the average person and they should be acknowledged for that.
HL: Who is your dream
actor to star opposite?
Bryce Howard: I don’t think I can think of someone that I wouldn’t want to work with. That’s one of the most fun parts of getting to do movies- that you’re constantly meeting new people and getting to an intimate authentic place quickly. So it’s special to me to get to feel so close to so many different kinds of people.
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HL: Are you interested in directing movies?
Bryce Howard: I do, but haven’t done a feature. I’ve directed for 10 years now. It’s this whole secret side of my career that I’ve enjoyed and it’s meant so much to me and been so fulfilling. But it’s behind the scenes. It hasn’t been public.
HL: If you weren’t in the movie industry, what
profession would you go for?
Bryce Howard: This is an adjacent industry—writing. When I was thinking about what I should focus in on, writing was first before acting. I interned at Vanity Fair for a while and wanted to see the side of writing that was more commercial and financially sustainable other than being a novelist, which is very difficult in order to support a family, working freelance as a writer. I could definitely see teaching. I would love that. Definitely literature, and maybe sociology or psychology. Of course, I would have to go through more years of school in order to be able to be a teacher.
HL: How do you feel about actors who don’t have any
preparation or knowledge or experience and they still rise
up? Do you think it’s just a matter of luck?
Bryce Howard: That’s what’s exciting about any art form is that there’s not a formula. Someone can have very different skill sets and very different kinds of intelligence, and very different backgrounds, and very different kind of knowledge base and they are all artistic inclinations. It’s not like a doctor where you are obviously required to have a certain base of knowledge and there’s a standard. But part of what’s exciting about any kind of art is the work is to be creative. You definitely don’t need a formal education to do that. For me, it was a thrill going to school and school is my hobby, a passion. I’m always involved in schools. That’s something I think I craved and being in that kind of an environment. I’m at UCLA extension right now. It’s just what I do. My dad is an interesting example; he started working professionally when he was four. There’s no formal training that can be had before the age of four. You learn creative work by doing. I appreciate having an understanding of the history and the context of the art form and the various means through which one can explore their art. I valued being taught by mentors and by people who had had that experience, who had gone through doing it and had thought critically about the work.