After an increasingly high-profile movie career that includes standouts like M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" and "Lady in the Water," "Spider-Man 3," the "Twilight," saga and "The Help," in 2015 Howard appeared in "Jurassic World," which became the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time and solidified her status as a full-fledged movie star.
This year, the actress demonstrated her continuing appeal, first headlining Disney's "Pete's Dragon," the engaging, critically praised reimagining of its '70s-era live-action/animation hybrid (the new film debuts on Blu-ray and DVD on Nov. 29), as the kind-hearted small town sheriff confronted with an orphaned child apparently raised in the wilderness alongside a not-so-imaginary friend in the form of a dragon.
Howard then followed it up with a downright bravura performance in the not-too-far-futuristic "Black Mirror" episode "Nosedive," playing a woman whose increasingly consuming obsession with her own popularity rating on her society's dominant -- and sometimes domineering -- social media platform threatens to take it -- and her -- on a precipitous plunge.
The actress joined Moviefone to reflect on her recent string of successes, consider the evolution of her career, and even look back on what it's meant to her to see performances by her acting dynasty family -- including her father, actor and filmmaker Ron Howard -- captured on film and video forever.
Moviefone: You've had an unabashed love of the source material, Disney's 1977 film "Pete's Dragon," since you were little. It must have been especially cool to reinvent it so dramatically and have people fall in love with this version.
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah. Whenever you do anything where there is a source material like an original film or a novel, or it's a sequel of something, there's always that element of pressure. But even more so, when it's something that meant something to you personally as a child, I don't know why I keep putting myself in these situations. I'm very lucky too, honestly.
But yeah, what I loved about it when I read the script -- and I'm so happy that people have seemed to have similar reactions to this -- is that it didn't step on the toes of the original movie. We're not doing the same music.
It's taking the central idea of that first film and keeping that intact, that it's a story of a boy and his best friend who's a dragon. And it's a live-action film with an animated character, and it's a Disney film. But other than that, there were so many different things, new storylines. I was nervous about that, but I appreciate that as well. So I'm glad that folks seem to appreciate that.
I met you when you were first starting out doing this, and I was first starting out in my field. Now you have this amazing body of work that you've been able to build. When we met, you were, I'm sure, an actress that was just excited to have opportunities.
Now, you've got these great collection of films that you've made, films that people love and have embraced. Tell me what that aspect of your professional life means to you.
Thank you. It's really amazing. I think because I'm a third-generation actor, I really knew to not expect success at all. I knew the statistics. I knew how difficult it is. When I was a teenager, my grandparents -- my dad's parents -- brought me to Vegas when I was 16 years old, because I could walk the floor, and my grandmother loved to play the nickel slot machine. And she knew I was doing high school plays, I was going to apply to NYU. They knew that I was definitely going to pursue it in some capacity.
And my grandmother said to me, "Do you know what the rate of the average working actor in SAG is, in terms of how many auditions it takes for them to get a job?" The average working actor, which means they're making a living as an actor. I thought maybe one in 10. It was one in every 64 auditions.
So, going into my career that way, knowing the very real odds, having seen the ups and downs with my family, and also knowing that theirs was actually a success story, I hedged my bets like crazy. I was always working side jobs and saving as much as I could. When I first started working in theater, but in particular when I got my first break in film with M. Night Shyamalan, and that being my first movie, I was like, "Oh my goodness -- this is crazy!"
Then getting to continue to work -- while also I've had times away, during pregnancies and after giving birth, and all of that -- and the fact that I've been able to continue to work is really a serious privilege, and exciting, and moving to me. It's incredible. It's really, really incredible.
Yeah, to get to be in a movie like a Disney film, that I know that my kids enjoy and that they'll grow up with, and providing those memories for my kids -- as well as the same experience that I had growing up on film sets, that they're able to do that, it's really something that I don't think I'll ever take for granted.
Potentially your work is, like so much of your dad's work, immortal. It's with us for generations now.
When it works, when it's working, it's a euphoric experience in so many different levels. Because, like you said, there is that thing. That's not the goal for any of us: immortality. But I know what it means having been a child and being able to watch my dad as a kid in "The Andy Griffith Show." I know what that meant to me. I know what it means to me getting to see my dad at different ages of his life, and what his work was like, and what he sounded like.
So, for me, all of my family who have worked in creative fields, I have that forever, and that's something that's priceless. So to think that that's something that my kids could, when I'm long gone, that my relatives -- even relatives that I don't meet down the road -- could maybe see that, that's wild and surreal! I actually have never thought about that specifically until you just mentioned that. That my great grandkids and stuff ... Oh, I've got to stay on my game!
You are most certainly on your game in your episode of "Black Mirror," "Nosedive."Let's talk about the response to that. People are just going nuts for that, and deservedly so.
Thank you. Oh man -- that job was amazing. I said yes to that without there even being a script. It was just Joe Wright, "Black Mirror"? "Yes, please!"
It was just one of those really freeing, collaborative, sort of idyllic working experiences. It was great because it was also weird, and we were allowed to be weird -- and I gained 30 pounds for it. I felt that the nature of the piece, and the subject matter of the piece, it was an extreme circumstance. Therefore, I felt like I had permission to go to extreme places.
That isn't always the case. I feel like sometimes with films, you not only want to look smaller, you feel like you need to act smaller, you feel like you need to not step on certain things within the scene. Whereas, that story was this person. It was like bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And to get to be that was really awesome.
That concept -- once I got what was happening in this episode, I realized it's something that you, as an actress, have lived in -- "How big is your following? What do you bring to a movie as far as audience numbers?" But now we're all doing it with our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.
Tell me about your thoughts on just seeing that culture go from your occupation specifically to include everyone, around the world?
That's another thing that I only kind of recently realized. I think it was just in talking about "Black Mirror." When I first started doing social media, which was only not even a year ago, I was like, "What should my line be? Who am I? What kinds of photos do I post?" People are like, "Just be yourself." I'm like, there's folks who are going to be seeing this. I need to keep that in mind.
And I think that there's a certain amount of awareness of self that as someone who has any kind of a public life, you fight it a little bit, you accept it a little bit, you don't want to be aware of it, but then you are aware of it, and you don't want to be weird about it. That is something that I think has been very specific to folks in a public life, and that now everyone experiences.
Everybody now is like, there's that filter for everyone. Or there's no filter, but there's consequences, in a way that there wasn't consequences before. So in a way, in talking about social media, I feel like everyone can relate a little bit to that experience of being like, "Whoops, I said something." And it's not just a one-on-one thing now, or just in your work place, or in your family. It's global. Your words, your images, for everybody, are global.
And, as of right now, even more relevant than ever.
Absolutely. Absolutely. We're seeing how technology is rapidly affecting our lives. "Black Mirror" in a way, each episode is a cautionary tale. We're definitely seeing how fast our world is changing and what can result from that.
Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford), a woodcarver, delights local children with stories of a mysterious dragon that lives deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. His daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) believes these are just tall tales, until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 10-year-old orphan who says he lives in the woods with a giant, friendly dragon. With help from a young girl named Natalie (Oona Laurence), Grace sets out to investigate if this fantastic claim can be true. Read More