She may have a last name that rivals most Hollywood heavyweights, but don’t think Bryce Dallas Howard rose to fame riding on her father’s coattails. Before starring in big name blockbusters like Terminator Salvation andSpider-Man 3, Ron Howard’s daughter paid her dues.
Thanks to a reputable background in theater, where she caught the eye of director M. Night Shyamalan who cast her in two of his biggest films, The Village and Lady In The Water, Howard’s career has blossomed on the big screen. This month, she emerges as a 1920s debutante in Tennessee Williams’ The Loss Of A Teardrop Diamondand next year will soon be seen as Victoria in the The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (replacing Rachelle Lefevre). While there may still be some skeptics (nothing can stop an angry Twilight blogger after all), Howard continues to make a name for herself all on her own.
SNMag: So you have a film coming out this month, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yes, it comes out in select cities on December 30.
SNMag: Could you tell us more about the project and how you came to get involved with it?
BDH: It was such an amazing thing. I had enormous excitement when Jodie (Markell, the film’s director) invited me to do the film. It was brave on her part because typically women who are pregnant don’t get movies. (laughs) But, Jodie, she’s a mother and she was incredibly inspiring and said, “You know I really think that you can do it and I will be really supportive of you and let’s play together.” That got me involved. Jodie reached out, and I’m really grateful.
SNMag: We heard that you were her first choice for the role of Fisher Willow. What are your thoughts on that?
BDH: The fact that she would feel that way is astonishing and humbling, and it was amazing to work with somebody who is also an actress because she knew this character so well. She knew this character not only from the perspective of a filmmaker but from the perspective of an actress. I could really rely on her in ways that I haven’t in previous projects. It was really great. It feels like this role was a genuine collaboration.
SNMag: What was it about the role specifically that drew you to the character?
BDH: Well, the character is very different from me and to be honest it was kind of challenging at first, for that reason, to really understand her. I think the reason why I was having difficulty in understanding her is because I operate from a very apologetic place. I just don’t like to take up a lot of space and I’m always feeling bad if I do something. I’m a people pleaser and she’s none of those things. She is totally unapologetic and every single emotion that she has, every single nuance comes from that. She doesn’t care what people think about her.
SNMag: Were you a fan of Tennessee Williams’ work before taking on this project?
BDH: Oh yes, very much so. I went to drama school and I was always really disappointed that I was never cast in any of the Williams teams. It’s such a delicious thing for an actor to do a Williams role. It is so emotional and the characters are so expansive in their emotions and how they express themselves and the language is so beautiful. I mean, to be honest, one of the reasons why I went to NYU is because when I was a junior in high school, I went and saw an NYU production of Suddenly, Last Summer and it was amazing. I wanted to go to the school. So, the possibility of acting in something that draws you in with the rich beauty of his heroine …it is just outstanding for me. That’s a huge treasure.
SNMag: When you initially applied to drama school you chose to drop your last name. Is that something that you’ve had to worry about, getting special treatment because of your father’s career?
BDH: That’s definitely something I think about a lot because I’m all about fairness. I have a huge thing about justice in life. I want to achieve things by my own merit. I’m really grateful to have a family that has an immense amount of wisdom, but I didn’t feel comfortable just going out there professionally with the Howard name. To be honest, I don’t think it would have made a difference. At the end of the day people just need an actor that does a good job. For my own well-being, I needed to remove my name at first so that I would never question that. My sister is an actress and she’s the same way. We’re just super sensitive to that. It goes back to justice and wanting to be fair. The idea that there’s another actress out there that’s better and not being hired because I know someone who is friends with my dad, I could never stomach that.
SNMag: What has it been like joining the cast of Twilight?
BDH: It’s a really extraordinary series and obviously the franchise really reflects what Stephenie Meyer has created with a lot of integrity. She’s so involved with the movies and it is really wonderful. It’s really an incredible storytelling moment. And people are really connecting with and responding to that. So I read the books and I just did my best for the character Victoria. I just wanted to do my best not to interfere with the books.
SNMag: Did you feel pressure coming into this, with the character already being established?
BDH: Yes, of course I did. Rachelle [Lefevre] did an extraordinary job at creating Victoria and part of the joy of a franchise like this is getting to see not only the characters grow but the actors continuing to grow with the characters. That’s a lot of the joy in the Harry Potter series. Every time I see one of those movies it’s so exciting to see them because they’re all getting a little bit older and different things are happening to them. It’s like watching a TV show. You start to connect with the actors really deeply. It was really unfortunate for everybody that Rachelle left. I did feel, I don’t know if I should say a pressure, but an enormous responsibility because the fans felt really strongly about the role of Victoria and they felt a deep connection to Rachelle, which they should because she is also beautiful and talented. I really did do my best and I hope that whatever work I did can somehow honor what had been created before and what was created by Stephenie. I felt really grateful to this because Rachelle and I have connected. She’s an amazing woman and has been enormously and overwhelmingly helpful.
SNMag: What was the shooting like for you? Did you have an opportunity to hang out with the cast and bond with them?
BDH: Oh, yes, I mean they’re a very tight-knit group of people who are just wonderful. They’re incredibly authentic and none of them are getting swept up by the mania of this. They just care about each other and are protective of each other. They are just a great group of friends. I feel like all of these people would have been friends regardless. They all bonded through this amazing moment that’s happening in their lives.
SNMag: Now that you’re a new mom, how do you balance motherhood and having such an intense career at the same time?
BDH: It is really challenging. I’m producing a movie in Portland right now and I fly back home to L.A. on the weekends. I have a really supportive family and my husband is like father of the year. It’s a good infrastructure of support but even then I always feel like I’m falling short. I think most mothers feel that way, especially working moms.
SNMag: What is your perfect or ideal Saturday night?
BDH: I write a lot. My ideal Saturday night is either writing or going to my favorite restaurant in L.A. called Lamill. My ideal Sunday is with family, my husband and my baby.