Bryce Dallas Howard is checking a lot of boxes on her career bucket list. After starring in last year’s box office record-breaker “Jurassic World,” the actress and daughter of director Ron Howard landed a role in Disney’s upcoming adventure-fantasy “Pete’s Dragon,” a reimagining of the 1977 children’s classic she adored as a child. Howard was such a fan of the original film that she sought out the script for the new movie immediately upon hearing about plans for a reboot.
“I was pleasantly surprised that it was something that could stand alone and wasn’t stepping on my memories of the original,” Howard told IndieWire in a recent interview. “It was a really beautiful, powerful, magical story.”
Co-written and directed by David Lowery, the writer-director of 2013’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” the movie focuses on an orphan boy named Pete and his friendship with a magical dragon that lives in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Howard plays a forest ranger named Grace whose father (Robert Redford) has always believed in the dragon’s existence.
Though Howard is building an impressive resume of acting roles that includes 2011’s “The Help” and a “Jurassic World” sequel planned for 2018, she has also been honing her skills as a director. Her 2011 short film “When You Find Me” was one of 11 live-action films shortlisted for an Oscar nomination at the 2013 Academy Awards, and her latest short “Solemates” played at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
While acting in studio movies and independent films is great experience for any up-and-coming director, it also has its drawbacks, according to Howard. “It makes me one of the more potentially annoying people on set because I ask a million questions,” she said, adding that she felt better when she saw actor-director Robert Redford also asking a lot of questions about the visual effects on “Pete’s Dragon.”
Walt Disney Productions
One of the things she learned from her dad is that when you transition from acting to directing full-time, you don’t get to learn from spending time on other directors’ sets. “He’s always asking me ‘How did they do this’ or ‘How did they approach that,'” she said.
Howard doesn’t have a specific project in mind yet for her directorial debut — a project she co-wrote several years ago called “The Originals” has been shelved for the time being — nor does she have a timeline by which she wants to direct a feature. Still, she says she’d be “very disappointed” if she doesn’t direct a feature “at some point.”
Perhaps even more disappointing, however, would be missing out on the opportunity to work with her dad, something she says she “really, really, really” wants to do. “It would be a dream come true,” she said. “It’s about finding a script and a circumstance [for it to work].”
In the meantime, Howard can be seen starring alongside Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez in the upcoming drama-thriller “Gold,” about a stock promoter and geologist searching the Indonesian jungle for gold. The film opens in October, and shooting took place last summer in New York, New Mexico and Thailand. “It was bananas in the best way,” Howard said. “It was wild and organic and Matthew McConaughey is a force to be reckoned with. And also an excellent kisser.”
“Pete’s Dragon” opens on Friday, August 12.