Bryce Dallas Howard is no stranger to big movies. Growing up, her father Ron Howard directed some of the biggest. Then she grew up to star in Spider-Man 3, Terminator Salvation and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. This weekend, she fulfills the promise of 1993's biggest movie of all time Jurassic Park (until Titanic in '97).
Jurassic World opens June 12 and Guff was at Bryce Dallas Howard's press conference where she talked about running in high heels, her own family and the day the late Michael Crichton's son visited the set.
Q: Do you have a very vivid memory of the first time you saw Jurassic Park?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Absolutely. I really do. All my friends were going to see the movie opening night. I was not allowed to because I was twelve and it was PG-13. My parents are real literal. They saw the movie opening night and came home. I remember this as clear as day. My dad said, "This is cinema history. You have to see this movie in the theaters." And so I got to see it that opening weekend with my parents. At that time, I was around moviemaking and was also very interested in filmmaking. Whenever my Dad would do something in a film I couldn't quite understand, I would say, "How did you do this effect?" or whatnot. In a really great way, he'd explain it to me. When I saw that film, I liken it to an aspiring painter seeing the Sistine Chapel for the first time. It was something so beyond what I thought could be possible. The kid part of me thought clearly there must be real dinosaurs because they were real dinosaurs. It was remarkable.
Q: You play a powerful female. Did you ever think, "Why can't I wear a pair of sneakers rather than running around in these ridiculous heels from dinosaurs?"
BDH: There were several fittings where during the fitting I'd say, "Couldn't I just wear boots or something?" The costume designer said, "Yeah, but you're going to look so protected." Well, yeah, exactly. But there's something honest about having a character that starts off so pristine in heels and fits in a corporate environment, but not at all in a jungle environment, ultimately ending up in the jungle. Something that spoke to me about the character was, every once in awhile, a person comes along who says they can run in heels better than they can run in sneakers. I think that's who this person is. I thought in a way something that seems to be a handicap is her greatest strength and source of her power in that she is wicked fast at the end. I couldn't deny that. I had to really practice running in heels because that's not a skill I was born with.
Pratt and Howard pose at the Beijing premiere of 'Jurassic World,Getty Images
Q: What do you think is the appeal of dinosaurs that made Jurassic Park a hit and keeps people interested in Jurassic World?
BDH: I can only really speak for myself and what I've noticed in my kids and people in my life. I think because dinosaurs were real and yet they seem so fantastical. That's why they held such a huge fascination for me as a child. They're so different from human beings. They were real and ruled the Earth for way longer than we've been around. That there were these creatures 65 million years ago and beyond. That we can study them. There's evidence of the fact they existed and they're still sort of a mystery. How did they go extinct? I remember that was one of the biggest mysteries of my life. What happened to the dinosaurs? As a kid, you're into imaginary things, but here's this thing that's even better than anything imaginary and it's real.
Q: How many cool points did you get from your family for doing this film and how old will your own kids have to be to see this?
BDH: My kids are really excited. It's very cool. The fact that after this was Pete's Dragon, I don't know what I'm going to do after this because it better be something kid oriented for them to stay [interested]. In terms of their age, I made a huge terrible mistake when I shot a scene with an animatronic dinosaur. It was that experience that you had in the theaters watching Jurassic Park and seeing dinosaurs for the first time. It was the equivalent to that, just being in the presence of a dinosaur which felt real. It was a chilling experience honestly. We went home that night and my daughter asked me what I did that day and I told that I worked with a dinosaur. She looked terrified. Almost every single night since then she's asked me if a dinosaur is going to come into her room. It's going to be a while before my daughter sees the film. For my son, my husband needs to see the movie and we'll talk about when the right time is for him to see it because he's 8 years old.
Howard and a dinosaur,Universal Pictures
Q: You play two characters: the buttoned down Claire and the emotionally exposed one. How did you approach the moment with the brontosaurus which seems to be the breaking moment when she becomes exposed. Which one was more fun to play?
BDH: I think the fun of it is the arc. The journey. When you're shooting a movie, you shoot it out of order. There was so much fun in "Now she's vulnerable and courageous and super empowered," and then the next day it would be, "now she's fearful and insecure and trying to convince others of her authority when she feels out of control." That was the deliciousness of playing a character like this. That scene, which is an emotional scene, was acted with an animatronic dinosaur. It was an unbelievable experience. You can go to exhibits and see animatronic dinosaurs but it was nothing like this. It was really real. That was a particularly emotional day because Michael Crichton passed away quite suddenly when his wife was eight months pregnant. When we shot this movie, his son was six-years-old and that was the day he visited the set. He went and saw this dinosaur and turned to his mom and said, "Mom. It's a real dinosaur." I just burst into tears because this is his father's legacy and this is what his father has given to all children. Here he was, his son, in what he thought was the presence of a real dinosaur. It was incredibly moving to me. That day, because of that, felt really charged and meaningful.