Bryce Dallas Howard walks into the Beverly Hilton and gets settled in the corner of her hotel suite. She notices a copy of MiNDFOOD spilling out of my bag, and says excitedly, ‘Oh. I love MiNDFOOD! I especially loved the issues with Judi Dench and Helen Mirren on the covers.’ So when I tell her that our chat will appear on our website she smiles. ‘That’s great. When I filmed Pete’s Dragon in New Zealand, I’d see it and always buy it.’
Pete’s Dragon is the latest Disney offering and is based on the 1977 classic fantasy about an orphan boy and his dragon. It also stars Robert Redford and Karl Urban.
Howard is the daughter of actor and Oscar-winning director Ron Howard. Some of her more prominent roles include: The Village (2004), Lady in the Water (2006), As You Like It (2006), Terminator Salvation (2009), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), and Jurassic World (2015).
She is married to actor Seth Gabel and they are raising their son, Theo, born in 2007, and daughter, Beatrice, in 2012.
DOES IT MAKE IT MORE SPECIAL TO MAKE A CHILDREN’S MOVIE NOW THAT YOU ARE A MOTHER YOURSELF?
Very much so. When I first decided to do the film and – and got the chance to go out there to New Zealand – I was mostly just thinking about my own childhood and the excitement of getting a chance to be a part of a Disney film. I was totally Disney obsessed as a kid. When I actually got out to New Zealand, and my kids were there and they asked me about the movie, it gradually occurred to me that like how meaningful this was. When they watch movies and see Walt Disney’s castle, they get really excited. They told me the other day that they saw a trailer for the movie and they were so excited and I got really emotional. It’s incredible getting to transfer my own excitement about being a part of a Disney film and see that excitement resonate in my own kids. Now I only want to make movies that my kids will be excited about because the experience is beyond just beyond meaningful to me.
DID YOU GET A CHANCE TO SPEND MUCH TIME WITH ROBERT REDFORD?
Yes, yes. So, okay, he’s the legend. There was a lot of excitement before he came to New Zealand and we were all like ‘Oh my gosh! Robert Redford’s going to be in New Zealand! And I’m sure you’ve met him and know that he’s very warm in person and unassuming and gentle and for a second you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is Robert Redford in front of me!’ It was just unreal. It was awesome. There were lots of scenes that we had in cars together and I kept kind of thinking to myself like I just want to lock the door and keep this man in this car with me (laughs).
WHAT WAS IT LIKE SHOOTING IN NEW ZEALAND?
Well, New Zealand and one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I had been there 30 years previously with my family when my dad was shooting WILLOW so it was kind of this crazy experience to be shooting in the same country 30 years later with my own young family. I think the moment that I got there, that sense of wonder and awe and innocence definitely kicked in and then just shooting this film.
Everyone brought their children with them and Karl’s family is obviously from New Zealand and it was just this kind of idyllic experience.
It reminded me a lot of when I was a kid making PARENTHOOD and there were all these kids on set so I think just that experience alone just naturally lent itself to just feeling kind of free.
DO YOU MAKE IT A POINT OF DOING TOURISTY THINGS WHEN YOU TRAVEL AND WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIALS YOU TAKE WITH YOU?
I made it a point of doing some touristy things in New Zealand and a lot of those adventures involved sheep (laughing). It was really fun. It was really great getting to do that. In terms of essentials, I try to always anticipate how long I’m going to be in a place and therefore I bring that many vitamins. For whatever reason the vitamin situation ends up being the thing that I am just I get most fixated on, I think because it’s hard to ship vitamins to different countries and so that’s the thing that I think is probably, weirdly, the most important.
I try to always bring photographs of my family and – and a certain kind of Stevia that I really like. I tend to bring a lot of books with me, I bring way too many books more than I can even read and it ends up getting really, really heavy. I chide myself and say that I really need to start being a part of the future and have a Kindle.
YOUR DAD MUST HAVE TRAVELLED A LOT TOO WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE FOR YOU GROWING UP?
Well, this is the honest truth and what’s kind of interesting is that because my parents brought us everywhere with them, I always have the memories of my dad being there but we were on the set, we would have tutors or we would go to a local school. So my memories are always of him being there but it’s because the reality was that we were with him, and my mom worked really hard to always facilitate that, I don’t remember my dad ever missing anything with one exception which I was fine with.
I had got really into basketball when I was young and was on the Varsity team and was the captain of the Varsity basketball team and all that kind of stuff. My dad was shooting something at the time and he didn’t make it to the basketball games and he said it was the biggest regret in life. And I am like, ‘Dude, you’re off the hook!’ I think because his parents were so just engaged as parents and really wonderful, my dad has really high expectations for himself as a parent, sometimes almost too high, and so I think in a way I also inherited that.