Bryce Dallas Howard talks about working with Sam Raimi, possibly working with her father and reading about M. Night Shyamalan on the internet
As the daughter of Hollywood legend Ron Howard, Bryce Dallas Howard has carved out a very interesting career for herself. Having worked with such diverse directors as M. Night Shyamalan and Lars Von Trier, Howard continued her streak playing the role of Gwen Stacy in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3. As a character who, along with Kirsten Dunst's M.J., is vying for the affection of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), Howard certainly makes her mark in this third installment.
In Spider-Man 3, Peter Parker has finally managed to strike a balance between his devotion to M.J. and his duties as a superhero. But there is a storm brewing on the horizon. As Spider-Man basks in the public's adulation for his accomplishments and he is pursued by Gwen Stacy, who rivals M.J. for his affections, Peter becomes overconfident and starts to neglect the people who care about him most. His newfound self-assuredness is jeopardized when he faces the battle of his life against two of the most feared villains ever (Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace), whose unparalleled power and thirst for retribution threaten Peter and everyone he loves.
THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS Spider-Man 3 SPOILERS.
How excited were you to be in this movie?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I was so excited. I love this franchise. I was a huge fan of the first film. The second film I was completely blown away, because I felt like it was better than the first film. I was one of those people going on the internet going, okay, what are the rumors? What's going on? When I found out that they were thinking of having another female character I just was all over that.
When you're doing research and you find Gwen Stacy, you find out that she dies, were you expecting that at all?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Well, I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure it was gonna happen. The script did change a lot. There was never an incarnation where that actually occurred. It's funny, when I did start doing research and a picture of her popped up on the internet, I looked at it and I was like, "Are they serious? They want to cast me as this character?" There's such a specific look and that's not anything that I envisioned myself doing and being able to do. There was a lot of hair meetings, makeup meetings, to figure out the look and whatnot.
Is that your real hair in the movie or a wig?
Bryce Dallas Howard: No, they dyed it.
How long were you dangling for in the movie?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Weeks. That was so much fun to shoot. It was on a 3 or 4 story structure inside of a soundstage. Literally, over and over again, they would just collapse it. All these desks and coffee machines would just fall down and smash on the ground. They'd clean it up and then set it up again. They put a harness on me. Of course I was safe the entire time but they really let me fall. There was like no acting involved in that scene whatsoever.
Did you come on board before the script was done?
Bryce Dallas Howard: No, I was actually involved really late in the process. I think it was a couple of days before shooting started. The script was already set. Of course, during the entire process there was a lot of rewrites and a lot of changes, but I was involved as late in the process as possible.
What were your biggest surprises working on a movie of this size?
Bryce Dallas Howard: What was really surprising to me was the amount of time that was devoted to the complexity of the characters, rehearsals and how much effort the producers and obviously Sam put into making sure that this was a film with a lot of gravity to it. I just assumed our focus would be on CGI and the action. I was really delighted by that and I was also surprised by the fact that the set felt so intimate? It felt like we were making some kind of independent film. Everyone knew each other, it was almost like a family. When I saw the film finally, just a couple of days ago, I was like, oh my God! This is what we were doing? That's so small.
Where you happy with the way that the end of dance scene between Peter, M.J. and yourself played out?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah, I was because I'm sure you guys know, the character of Gwen Stacy initially, in the comic book, was Peter Parker's first love. She was around in the mid to late '60s, early '70s. Therefore, I really wanted to be true to this character, I didn't want to come in in the third film as some kind of man stealing, home wrecking tart. I was glad that the way that the relationship was, that she was friends with Peter Parker, that there was a closeness there, unintentionally, she created some tension in their romance. I was very pleased with that.
Sam, wasn't initially too excited about putting this character in the film. Then he warmed up to it figuring that the character would be introduced in this film, and then explored in later films if need be. What would it take to get you to be a part of that?
Bryce Dallas Howard: What would it take? Just asking. (Laughs) I've been very vocal about the fact that I want to be a part of the fourth film if there is one. I loved the experience. This was one of the best experiences of my life, truly. I almost didn't feel like I was making a movie. We shot in Los Angeles, that's where I live with my husband, I made a lot of really lasting friendships. It was a blast. I love these films. I love what they represent. Sure, these are huge, huge films, and it's always great to be a part of something that you know, at the end of the day, is going to be seen.
Just from a moral standpoint I think these films really have something to say. I think that's very important.
Are you signed up for anything else right now?
Bryce Dallas Howard: In August there's a film called The Loss of A Teardrop Diamond. It's a Tennessee Williams screenplay. It's never been made before.
How much interaction have you had with fans about being cast as Gwen Stacy?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Not much interaction other than the fact that I've been skowering the internet for just every blog possible. Just reading everything that they have to say about it, because that is a tremendous resource. These are people that have devoted a lot of time and a lot of emotional effort, honestly... its almost like writing a thesis on the significance of these characters and whatnot. I have a lot of reverence for how committed they are. I hope I did an okay job because I get that. I get how important it is.
What was it like being on the set day after day?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It was absolutely thrilling. I will not forget the first time that I saw the Spider-Man suit. I was just like, oh my God, sometimes you know when you see a celebrity and you don't want to stare but you're just like, oh my God, there's so and so! That's how I was with the Spider-Man suit. (Laughs) I was nervous to stare at it. It was so much fun. There was a moment when we were in New York City, we were on zip lines, about 5 stories above the concrete and we zipped down, and Spider-Man was holding me and I was holding Spider-Man and I was just like, "I'm being carried by Spider-Man!"
How was the upside-down kiss?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It was good but... I'd love, if it's possible, to save that and not talk about that too much at all, because I think the relationship between M.J. and Peter Parker, particularly in this film, is the thing that's most prevalent. I don't want to set up any expectations that may be thwarted or disappointed by talking about anything between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker.
END OF SPOILER ALERT.
What was it like when the first pictures of you as Gwen Stacy began appearing on the internet?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah, that was kind of crazy and also underneath my clothes were like 40 lbs. of harnesses. I was like, "Oh no, this isn't the representation of Gwen Stacy that I want out there," you know? You kind of want to preserve the magic of the film. You don't want them to see the fact that you have harnesses on, that there's a big wire there and whatnot. It was also a little bit exciting. Also, because where I was shooting, a block away only a few years previously was where one of my bosses lived; where I would go and walk her dog. Literally, I could see her house and her office and I was just like, "Yeah, I'm with Spider-Man." (Laughs)
Is there any chance you might work with M. Night Shyamalan again?
Bryce Dallas Howard: There's been no discussion of that but I would love to. I've absolutely adored working with him and I think he's a fantastic storyteller.
He's currently got something...
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah, The Happening. This is where I am such a dork. We're friends and I could totally call him and read the script and stuff, but I've been going on the internet and being like, what spoilers are going on with The Happening? (Laughs) I should just call him.
What about you working with your father in the future?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I'd love to. That's totally up to him. I harass him on a daily basis about it; truly.
He's doing Angels and Demons. Any chance you might try and get into that?
Bryce Dallas Howard: (Laughs) Well, I don't think that would be quite right. The tricky thing with that is that it's kind of a loaded issue. He wants to make sure that it's absolutely the right role and that there's literally no other actress that could have played it. That in any other circumstance I would have been the right actress to cast, because if it's like "Oh, she did an okay job but there's 20 other actresses that would have done a better job," that would be really embarrassing and disappointing, obviously, and taint that whole experience. So, we'll wait...
Did you take any souvenirs from the Spider-Man set?
Bryce Dallas Howard: No, I didn't keep any souvenirs. The classic Gwen Stacy boots those a really very, very cool. It's very cool to be able to wear those.
Did you have any experiences in Spider-Man 3 that were different than the other films you've done?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Well, falling out of buildings. I loved the heightened realism of the dance sequence in the bar because... you don't get to do things like that. It felt like an old Hollywood musical.
Did you actually read any of the comics once you got the part?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Oh yeah, I would have been an idiot to not do that.
Did you ever come across any critiques of how your character looked online?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Oh sure, but its okay. I felt really glad to play this part. It was a challenge obviously because it wasn't something like, oh yes, this is something I know. This was something totally new for me. Going to the comic book and just as an actor, reading through it, reading through the different analysis that people have with this character and the relationship and the world was fantastic. It's something that I'm used to doing. I'm used to taking parts that I can do research for and then you go and do your job.
What do you think of the Gwen Stacy reboot that happened later in the comic?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah, the cloning... one of the first things I read about her, I don't know if this is true or a theory or what, they said that her death marked the end of the of the Silver Age of comic books. I was just like, oh my God, this is incredible.
Spider-Man 3 swings into conventional theaters and IMAX on May 4 from Columbia Pictures.