M. Night Shymalan has found his muse in the actress
Bryce Dallas Howard re-teams with M. Night Shyamalan in the dark fairy tale, Lady in the Water. Shyamalan made her a star in The Village and thought she would be perfect for this role. Bryce is Hollywood royalty. Her father is the Oscar winning director and actor Ron Howard. Bryce's career is certainly taking off. She's playing Gwen Stacy in the much-anticipated "Spiderman 3" coming next summer. She loses her trademark red hair and is a very attractive blonde in the film.
What were your favorite Bedtime Stories?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I know you're going to think I'm just saying this because it pertains to this, but The Little Mermaid. When I was a kid I used to collect little glass figurines. I loved the Grimm fairy tales, all of them, and then I got into Christopher Pike books at a very young age. Those are not fairy tales.
Your character doesn't say much in the film. Were you at all frustrated by the sparseness of dialogue?
Bryce Dallas Howard: No, actually that was really nice. It's something I realized when we were first starting to rehearse. In my personal life, I use so many words to create a boundary, so I'm actually not communicating with people. The thing that's wonderful about the story is she's able to communicate so much without saying hardly anything. I've tried to steal that a little bit into my own personal life. I think it is a much more powerful thing to listen than it is to talk.
How was it different working with Shyamalan this time?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It was so wonderful. I'm a part of a theater company in New York. I can kind of equate it with that. Because the wonderful thing about working with people over and over again is, during The Village, that was our introduction to each other. There was small talk, it was really nice, but just at the end of shooting, we were really getting to know each other and know each other's processes. Then with Lady in the Water, we were able to start at that place. That's a much more empowering place to start from. There's no BS between us. He knows my instrument. He knows when I'm in that place and he knows when I'm not.
You wear a shirt the entire film. Was this the most comfortable shoot?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It took about three hours in make-up each morning just to get rid of all my freckles. It was nice having a breezy costume. Thank God it was summertime, so it wasn't cold. At first, I dress very modestly, so I was like (gasps), my legs haven't seen the light of day since I was six years old. That was a little something to get used to.
How much time did you actually spend in the water?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Mostly in the shower, I think the irony is that this film is called Lady in the Water and Paul [Giamatti] is in the water the entire time. But pretty much just in the shower and one scene in the pool. So I was damp, not drenched.
How was it working with Paul Giamatti? I think he's completely underrated as an actor.
Bryce Dallas Howard: I agree with you. I was upstairs watching Cinderella Man. I turned to my best friend and said, "I swear to you, when he's 88 years old, people are going to say that is the greatest actor that ever lived". He is the most unbelievably talented man. There's no neurosis that comes with his talent. He's just available. He's not the kind of actor that has to disappear and be all methody. And this humility thing, he's always self deprecating and humble and willing to change his performance 180 degrees because of a suggestion. He's someone I really admire and one of the most well read men, woman, whatever, that I've ever met.
Was there any talk about the fact he just worked with your father on Cinderella Man?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It was a slightly inappropriate thing that he just worked with my dad and I come to the set the first day wearing this little shirt. And there are the parts where I have to take off the shirt. He's like, "I know your dad".
Did you discuss with Shyamalan his mythology behind the story?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yes and no, it's described very efficiently in the film. The whole mythology was there and that's obviously in the script. As far as where she came from, who she was, what kind of interaction she would have had with human beings, that kind of specificity, yes, those were dialogues I had with him. It was really fun to have something where we could go in completely different directions. There was no real research we could stand upon, or make decisions. We needed to totally and entirely use our imagination. I say "our", but it was really just Night's [Shyamalan] imagination. It was me just asking him a series of questions.
We heard you cried when you first read about this character. What in particular had you so taken?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It was actually the moment that Night offered me the part. I hadn't read the script at that point. It wasn't like a breakdown; it's when you get misty eyed. I had just seen The Village for the first time. My parents were there, and Night's family and his children were there. He had been editing The Village and telling me about this movie he called Lady in the Water, which he was getting ready to write. We were there at his office. I had just seen the film moments before. I can't believe I'm in a movie and what a great experience that was. We were walking back, he turned to me, "Bryce, I want you to be the lady in Lady in the Water." (screams) And then he told his little girls and that's what really got me, because the story is created for them. It was a special moment for me.
Your film career so far has been as a leading lady. Do you think you can go back to doing smaller character parts?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah, it's a rough life. (laughs) No, it's not hard, but I would say that right now my goal is to work with great filmmakers. I want fun experiences. I know that's superficial, but I do. For instance, I'm doing "Spiderman 3" and that's a small role. But it was such a great experience. It's easy for me to say because I've had pretty meaty roles, but it's not quite about that. It's more about the experience, what I can take from it, what I can learn.
How was shooting in New York and being a blonde in a Spiderman 3?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It was awesome. There's a moment during Spiderman in New York where I had to fly down from five stories. It was right down the street from where I got my first theater job. I actually walked over there to talk to all the ushers. "I'm doing Spiderman!"
When did you dye your hair back?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I just got my hair back to a red version. It's nice to be back home.
Your father's a great filmmaker, you've worked with great filmmakers, is there a trait they all share?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I would say two things. Above all else, humility. I would say a great filmmaker has humility. They're willing to listen, they're willing to learn; they are constantly pushing themselves. I would say a great filmmaker is a very humble person. Also, the second thing, which I would say is equally as important, is integrity. They speak the truth, they don't manipulate. What they promise to deliver to a person, they do. I think my dad has both of those things...and all of the directors that I've worked with.
What's the upside and downside of having Ron Howard as a father?
Bryce Dallas Howard: The upside is, and you guys can't relate to this, but it's just having my dad as a father. He's the greatest thing in my life...I get so emotional when I talk about my dad. There is no downside. Occasionally there are some misinterpretations about what our relationship is. Why I am where I am and how it pertains to him. But that's okay, I'm willing to take that. That's all good. I've got the greatest dad on planet earth.
He's got a great sense of humor. Does he pull jokes on you?
Bryce Dallas Howard: (laughs) I'll tell you one thing. I just got back from a family trip two days ago. We were on a boat with like thirty-one of my family members. They were on these jet skis and I'm actually a little bit afraid of the water. I'm convinced I'm going to be swallowed by a shark or something. I'm on the jet ski with my husband. My dad and his brother are racing by really really fast. They kept threatening to come towards me. I thought I was going to fall into the water. They got really close and I was like, "Dad, don't betray my fucking trust!" The next day he made t-shirts and he made everyone wear them. He's got a great sense of humor.
Do you ever go to your father for advice about the business?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I don't intentionally try to keep that separated. I do go to him for advice if I feel I need to. But mostly the advice I need has to do with my emotional state of being. If I'm in a good emotional place, than I end up making decisions that I'm confident with or proud of. I always go back to my parents if I'm feeling insecure.
Does he get excited about the directors you're working with?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Totally
Does he ever want to meet anyone, and ask you to introduce him?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yeah, he's like, "Can I come on the set with you". For Spiderman especially.
What's next for you?
Bryce Dallas Howard: There's a short film I'm directing in August. I'm doing it in Los Angeles.
What's your motivation for doing a short film?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It's through an organization called Film Aid. It's a charity that uses the power of film to educate. Glamour magazine and Cartier are financing it. It's a wonderful opportunity and I'm very taken care off.
Do you see yourself directing feature films one day?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I don't know. I have a lot to learn.
Lady In the Water swims to theaters July 21st and is rated 'PG-13' for some frightening sequences.