The most gorgeous hourglass figure I’ve ever seen walked into the room, wearing a black pencil skirt and fabulous short sleeved black shirt smooched with red lips. Bryce Dallas Howard is a beautiful presence to encounter both inside and out. When she sat down for our interview in LA, I got lost in her stories about motherhood, New Zealand, and filming Pete’s Dragon. Big thanks to Disney for the invite to this Bryce Dallas Howard Interview.
“We always yearn for our childhood, and we always yearn either to transform it, or to give it to our children.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Grace in Pete’s Dragon. A forest ranger looking after the very forest that Pete and Elliot call home. It’s quite fitting that Howard was working on something for the National Parks Centennial just before coming to our interview. Before she retired, my mom worked to protect wetlands and I love that Howard’s love for nature goes beyond a role in a film.
She also has a love for the 1977 version of Pete’s Dragon, saying “there’s a sweet spot, like an age where you just watch those movies again and again and again, and Pete’s Dragon was one of just a few movies that was that for myself and my siblings“. Do you remember what your movie was?
“When I heard about this script, and that they were going to be doing this film, I sought it out just out of curiosity. Not because I knew that there was a role or anything like that. Then I read it, and it’s very different than the 1977 version. But, I think it’s so beautiful and it really reminded me of the Disney films that I watched as a child, that were quite defining for me, and emotional sort of cemented this idea of American values or something. It reminded me of that.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
When she took on the role, that meant a move to New Zealand for Howard and her children, Theo and Beatrice. Although a new area for her children, Howard had traveled to New Zealand 30 years prior with her father, Ron Howard, while he was filming Willow.
“I have very vivid memories from that time and so, when I went back 30 years later with my own kids, around the same age as I was, it was really awesome. I though it would be completely different, and I was like, that’s exactly what I remember from when I was a kid. It’s cool.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
Being in New Zealand didn’t just bring back memories of childhood and help provide an amazingly beautiful backdrop for Pete’s Dragon. It also changed Bryce Dallas Howard as a mother, and was a good reminder of what actual nature is. No, it’s not AstroTurf.
“There was one day in particular, where we were walking into the woods. Okay, so two of the best things about New Zealand, in my opinion, is that there are no predators, so you can go into the forest and you’re not worried that there’s going to be an animal.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
“Except for a dragon.” – Blogger
“Except for a Dragon. But, there is really no predators, no snakes, nothing. And the other thing is that most places, it’s very difficult to get an Internet connection. So those two things work together beautifully. And yeah, there was a day where we were shooting in the forest, and Bob was there and Oakes was there and Oona, and I just remember looking up and it was just kind of perfect and it was idyllic, you know. No one was on their phones and it felt like what the movie looks like, you know, when you watch the movie. Like it felt like that kind of innocent, perfect moment. I’m realizing the older I get, how much of a privilege that is. We live in the suburbs and our backyard is half the size of this table, which I’m like so grateful for, you know what I mean. And, I asked my daughter recently, ‘do you want to grow up in nature?’ And she was like ‘I do– I am growing up in nature.’ and I was like ‘oh, no, you know, because girlfriend, that’s Astroturf in the back.’ New Zealand, it’s consistently ranked as one of the best places to raise families in the world, and I realized why. It definitely, it’s kind of shifted something for me as a parent in terms of my priorities. I think having those experiences, being surrounded by nature and being in a serene state where there is no fear and you could just kind of be there, I really want that for my kids. I had that so much as a child. I grew up in Connecticut, in the woods.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
Taking on the role of Grace wasn’t all about amazing adventures in New Zealand, it also offered the extraordinary chance to work with Robert Redford. We had to chat with Howard about what it was like to work the man himself, the man who has never died is hair. True statement straight from Robert Redford’s mouth to Bryce Dallas’s mouth to my ears.
“Oh my gosh, I mean he’s – okay so upstairs, I stayed in the hotel last night and there’s a picture of him as a young man in the hallway. I opened the elevator doors and I’m like ‘hello!’ I know, seriously. I mean it was, it was phenomenal. And watching the movie last night again he’s such a, he’s an environmentalist and he has just so much, when you’re around him you feel so much peace because he has that you know, or at least it seems like he has arrived at that place for himself. Just being in this really serene environment, and having these long awesome conversations with him, I mean it’s less a conversation and more just me peppering him with questions. It was incredible. He’s a family man and raising kids also, in this industry and in this world. He has a lot of perspective on that and it was wonderful getting to learn from him, and to be around him, and admire him, and see that he has the most incredible head of hair. He’s never dyed his hair. He said his son was like ‘dad, you can stop dying your hair.’ And he’s like ‘why don’t you believe me? I don’t die my hair.’ It’s crazy. Yeah, never.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
It’s always fun to find out an actor or actress’s favorite scene to shoot in a movie. Something we as an audience may think is uber cool to shoot, may actually be uber strenuous work. In the case of Pete’s Dragon, the scene I thought would be the most fun to shoot was the favorite scene for both Bryce Dallas Howard and Wes Bentley. Oops – spoiler alert for my upcoming Wes Bentley interview next Wednesday.
“It was definitely getting to ride on the back of Elliott. I was just in hysterics that whole day. I was sitting behind Wes last night at the premiere, and I grabbed his shoulders when we were watching it. We were just losing it the whole time because you know, we’re adults and we have kids and like, we’re on a dragon! The way they set it up, it was kind of like this rig, and we had harnesses on and you had to climb up, you were pretty high up on a ladder, and it would move around like a ride. It was nice that they kind of replicated the Disneyland experience in New Zealand while we were shooting. It was really fun.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
At one point during our Bryce Dallas Howard Interview, I was in tears. I had a feeling when we asked what her favorite Disney movie of all time was, that she was going to say The Little Mermaid. If I had her gorgeous red locks I would love Ariel too. Not that I don’t, I just love Lilo more. Howard didn’t just like Ariel, she even tried to be like her, and we heard about it in a “don’t try this at home” sort of way…..
“Okay so I haven’t thought really critically about that question, but just my first thought is The Little Mermaid because it came at a time, I think I was in second or third grade and it just, oh, no, [LAUGHS] no, no, I mean I was born in ’81 so I don’t know. Yeah, whenever it came out. My mom sets all of her stories when she was seven. My dad’s always like everything happened when you were seven, Cheryl, and so I could be doing that as well. But, Ariel has red hair. I had red hair. I still have red hair. And, it was one of those movies that just came at one of those moments. I memorized all the songs and I used to do really dangerous things such as, oh, my gosh, I would put on a leotard and then I would tie my legs together and I would throw myself in the pool. I did it many times, so dangerous. I actually have a memory of the last time I did this underwater looking up and thinking to myself like this is really not good like starting to panic really bad.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
“The fact that you’re here is amazing.” – Blogger
“Yeah, it is. It’s a miracle because of Disney.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
“Don’t ever do that.” – Blogger
“Yeah, I know, seriously. I don’t think my parents know. I mean they couldn’t have known. I don’t think that they would know. Yeah, no, now they’re going to know but now they know a lot of things. But yeah, so I think it was The Little Mermaid. Interestingly enough, David Lowery, the director of Pete’s Dragon, we’re the same age, he said the exact same thing.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
Before we sadly had to part ways, we wanted to find out what things Bryce Dallas Howard wants you to take away from watching Pete’s Dragon.
#1 So many Disney movies deal with loss. Like every movie, it’s so crazy. What’s really powerful about that, there’s this great Walt Disney quote that I’m just going to completely paraphrase here where he essentially was saying that, there can’t be light without shadows, and that the Walt Disney films don’t shy away from that.
#2 The story of after that kind of loss, and showing what it takes to find your family. That there is a family out there, even when you’re orphaned. I think that’s a really powerful message because we all experience loss, and will experience, eventually, the extreme loss of losing your parents.
#3 Another thing that’s occurred to me over time is that, Disney films seem to be, for m,e it’s like they’re 50% entertainment and 50% therapeutic. You sort of practice those emotions as a child, and you go through that experience and in a way, this is sort of what I think stories are meant to do. Prepare you for what is ahead. Prepare you for the commonalities within the human experience.
#4 Seeing that journey and that adventure. Finding your family and in the midst of that, having bonds that completely seem impossible or unconventional. Like Pete’s best friend being a dragon. I think that is definitely a powerful message.
#5 For kids and adults, it allows us to transcend the daily grind of reality and, and reminds us to look for magic. To look for something that can make you believe that the supernatural exists, or just that there’s something beyond. And it’s not in a religious sense at all or even a spiritual sense. But I think we all have that kind of sense of wonder within us and awe within us.
From one mom to another, our Bryce Dallas Howard Interview is one I will cherish forever. It’s not everyday that Ron Howard’s daughter looks around the table and says one of the sweetest things a “mommy” blogger could hear.
“Guys, thank you. So you guys have been being referred to as mommy bloggers. That’s awesome. You guys are responsible for all of my parenting choices. My son is almost 10 and my daughter is 4 1/2 and just even in that span of five years it’s so much. There is so much more information and it’s because of you guys, what you’re doing. So you know, thank you. Also the second kid thing, it’s just a wilderness out there. The world is a wilderness and I know how to set up camp a little bit.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
Plus, Howard is a realist in the kitchen, who can whip up dragon cupcakes that make you want to eat their faces off. Seriously. Watch this clip and tell me you don’t want to be her best friend.
After seeing Pete’s Dragon in theaters on August 12th, take a piece of advice from Bryce Dallas Howard and keep it alive and treasure it. Treasure it with every bit of your mommy heart.
“Having a movie that’s a live-action film, with a character who is magic and mythological I think that that does something for kids. My favorite question to be asked after a screening is from a kid saying, ‘what was it like working with Elliot? where is Elliot right now?’ Just to keep that alive and I definitely treasure that.” – Bryce Dallas Howard