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April 21st, 2019

Bryce Dallas Howard Jurassic World Interview

Bryce Dallas Howard plays a career-driven executive who’s responsible for overseeing every corner of the luxury dinosaur park in “Jurassic World,” the fourth film in the Jurassic Park series. When she finds herself unexpectedly saddled with the arrival of her nephews, Zach, 16 (Nick Robinson) and Gray, 11 (Ty Simpkins), Clair (Howard) has no time for the distraction of two visiting kids and sends them off to explore the park. But when Indominus Rex, the park’s dangerous new hybrid dinosaur stages an escape and disappears within the depths of the jungle, every creature in Jurassic World, both dinosaur and human, is threatened.

At the film’s recent press day, Howard talked about her collaboration with director Colin Trevorrow and what he brought to the project, her vivid first memory of seeing “Jurassic Park” as a 12-year-old, what it was like playing a powerful female character who is vulnerable but also strong and can run wicked fast in high heels, why she enjoys working with both dinosaurs and kids, the cool points she scored with her own kids for doing this film, what it is about dinosaur movies that makes them so appealing to audiences, Michael Crichton’s legacy, and how she’d love to direct her own feature film.

Check it all out in the interview below:

QUESTION: This is Colin’s second film. Was there anything he brought to the table that was interesting that maybe hasn’t been done before?

BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD: There were quite a few things actually. His first film was “Safety Not Guaranteed,” which was a movie that was made for $700,000. $700,000 is an enormous amount of money, but not for movies. Something he brought to this movie was that mindset that’s required when you’re making a micro-budget film, which is just a lot of passion, a lot of efficiency, and the ability to accomplish a lot with a small, intimate crew. When we were on this set, the catering was way better than an independent film, but other than that it felt far more intimate than what you would assume of a monster-sized studio franchise film. And that was all Colin. Colin is a really smart guy and he’s going to have a sensational career. I was always asking him, “Hey man, what are you going to do next? What’s the next thing?” And he just said, “I’m focusing on this. I’m just putting all of my energy into this right now. There will come a time and place where I start looking at future projects, but right now it’s this.” What I got from that was his integrity as an artist and also how important this movie was to him. It wasn’t just a way to leverage his career. This was as much a passion project for him as “Safety Not Guaranteed” and as anything that he will do in the future. Those were some things that really stood out to me just getting the chance to work with Colin.

Q: Do you have a very vivid memory of the first time you saw “Jurassic Park”?

HOWARD: Absolutely. I really do. I found that this is something that’s not so uncommon for those of us that were teenagers or kids that were at the age where they could see the movie, or even adults. That movie was cinema history. It really was just with the technology, how groundbreaking that technology was, the nature of the story itself, Michael Crighton’s story, and then, of course, the masterful filmmaking by Steven Spielberg. It was this perfect moment and this perfect movie. What my memory is, is that all my friends were going to see the movie opening night. I was not allowed to because I was 12 and it was PG-13. My parents are real literal, and 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.” So, I got to see it that opening weekend with my parents. At that time, I was already around moviemaking and I was also very interested in filmmaking. Whenever my dad would do something in a film that I couldn’t quite understand, I would say, “How did you do this effect?”, and he would always in a really great way explain it to me. When I saw that film, what I likened it to is an aspiring painter seeing the Sistine Chapel for the first time. It was just something so beyond what I thought could be possible. And then, the kid part of me, the 12-year-old part of me, was like, “Well clearly it must just be real dinosaurs because these are real dinosaurs.” It was just remarkable.

Q: You play a very strong female character in this film who’s powerful and is running the park. Did you ever think, “Why can’t I wear a pair of sneakers instead of running around in these ridiculous heels from dinosaurs for the whole film?”

HOWARD: What I loved so much about her was that when you see her, when you meet her, yes, she’s running the park. She’s responsible for 20,000 visitors every single day. She’s responsible for the assets, which are the dinosaurs. And she is responsible above all for the bottom line. Yes, she’s this senior level executive and projects this sense of power and authority, but in truth, she’s super disconnected from herself. In her quest for a profit, she’s disconnected from her own humanity. I thought it was so interesting to meet a character like that and then to have that person — the person that makes the mistakes, that causes the chaos — evolve into an individual who redeems themselves and is ultimately heroic. When you’re doing a film where the majority of the scenes are action sequences, there’s not a lot of time for character development or complexities like that or, especially if you’re playing a character that’s initially unlikeable, time to win the audience back. I really respected Colin for writing a story that hit all of those beats. You go into this thinking, “Is this a cliché?” and then you see that it’s not at all a cliché. I liked that. In terms of the heels, there were definitely several fittings where during the fitting I would say, “Couldn’t I just wear boots or something?” and the costume designer said, “Yeah, but you’re going to look so protected,” and I said, “Well yeah, exactly.” But there is something honest about having a character who starts off so pristine in heels and fits in a corporate environment, but not at all a jungle environment, ultimately end up in the jungle. Something that spoke to me about the character was that I felt like every once and a while a person comes along who says they can run in heels better than they can run in sneakers, and I think that’s who this person is. I thought in a way, when she first goes into the jungle, there’s actually even a line about it. There’s acknowledgement that she’ll never survive in those ridiculous heels. Something that seems to be a handicap ultimately is her greatest strength and a source of her power in that she is wicked fast at the end. I couldn’t deny that and so I had to really practice running in heels because that’s not a skill I was born with.

Q: Chris told us he tried heels yesterday.

HOWARD: He was so good. He was amazing. I was like, “Dude, you can do anything.”

Q: Who’s easier to work with: dinosaurs or kids?

HOWARD: The dinosaurs on this film were really cooperative. They were amazing. Even though that’s a joke, what I will say is the kids in this movie, which Nick wasn’t really a kid, he was 19 when we did this, but Ty is just brilliant. I actually just had an experience again working with a young cast in this movie I did called, “Pete’s Dragon” because I can’t get away from reptiles and they were amazing. I have only had incredible experiences working with children. I almost prefer them to the adults just because the enthusiasm comes from such a genuine place. Actually, I shouldn’t joke about that, because I’ve worked with pretty much universally awesome grownups, but there’s something magical when you’re working with a kid playing pretend. I really enjoyed that. And yes, the dinosaurs were cooperative in post-production when they came about.

Q: This film automatically appeals to a whole generation of people who grew up with the dinosaur craze of the 80’s and 90’s. What do you think it is about dinosaurs in general that just wins the hearts of so many people?

HOWARD: I can only really speak for myself and what I’ve noticed in my kids and obviously in people in my life. I think it’s because dinosaurs were real and yet they seem so fantastical. That is why they held such a huge fascination for me as a child. They’re so different from human beings. It’s difficult to imagine that they were real and that they ruled the earth for way longer than we’ve been around. It’s also the idea that there were these creatures that existed 65 million years ago and beyond and that we can study them. There’s evidence of the fact that they existed and yet they’re sort of a mystery. How did they go extinct? I remember when I was a kid that was one of the biggest mysteries of my life. It was like, “What happened? What happened to the dinosaurs?” Just as a kid, you’re into imaginary things, but then here’s this thing that’s even better than anything imaginary and it’s real. Part of what was so amazing about “Jurassic Park” was that until that point we had really only seen bones in museums, two dimensional drawings, and then a couple of really weird 50’s films where dinosaurs looked like your elbow. So, to get to see them come to life and to co-exist with human beings, it’s a wish fulfillment in a way and a cautionary tale. In terms of “Jurassic World,” something that is so self-aware about the movie is there’s the fun of seeing the park. That’s awesome to get to see John Hammond’s dream come to life and that’s amazing. And yes, dinosaurs are still incredible to get to see. And yet, this park has been around in existence for probably a little over a decade, and there’s a line that I say, “Nobody is impressed by a dinosaur anymore.” I think that would be true. In a way, it’s impressive to see dinosaurs, but because it was 22 years ago that “Jurassic Park” happened, we’ve seen dinosaurs now. So, what else might interest us? What else might bring us to buy a ticket? That’s in a way the story for this movie and that’s also paralleled as the story within the movie.

Q: How may cool points do you get from your family for doing this film and how old will your own kids have to be before they can see this?

HOWARD: My kids are really excited. It’s very cool. And then, the fact that after this it was “Pete’s Dragon” is just like I don’t know what I’m going to do after this. It’d better be something kid oriented for them to stay intrigued. In terms of their age, I made a huge, terrible mistake when I shot a scene in which Chris and I were with an animatronic dinosaur, and it was amazing. It was sort of 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 kind of being in the presence of a dinosaur which felt totally real. It was a chilling experience honestly. I went home that night, and my daughter asked me what I did that day, and I told her that I worked with a dinosaur. I thought she was going to go, “Oh!” but she looked terrified. Then, almost every single night since then she has asked me if a dinosaur is going to come into her room at night. So, it’s going to be a while before my daughter sees the film. In terms of my son, my husband needs to see the movie and we’ll talk about it, and then we’ll figure out when the right time is for him to see the film because he’s 8 years old. But I’ve seen a lot of kids in the theaters that are his age or younger and they absolutely love it. And then, I’ve seen a lot of adults say that they were only able to pay attention to half the movie because they had their heads buried in their own laps because it was terrifying. That’s ultimately such a personal thing, but I know they will see it. I feel so lucky to get to be in a movie that might touch their imagination in the same way that the original film touched mine.

Q: You play two characters: the button-down Claire and the emotionally exposed one. She’s almost an android until she becomes more emotionally involved. How did you approach the sequence with the brontosaurs which seems to be the breaking point where she becomes exposed. Which one was more fun to play?

HOWARD: I think the fun of it is the arc, the journey. When you’re shooting a movie, you shoot it out of order. So, I think there was so much fun in being, “Now she’s vulnerable and courageous and super empowered,” and then the next scene would be like, “Now she’s fearful and insecure and just trying to convince others of her authority when she feels totally out of control.” That was the deliciousness of playing a character like this. And then the scene with the brontosaurs, which is an emotional scene, was acted with an animatronic dinosaur, and like I said, it was an unbelievable experience. You can go to exhibits and see animatronic dinosaurs but it was nothing like that. It was really real. That was a particularly emotional day because Michael Crichton passed away quite suddenly when his wife was 8 months pregnant. When we shot this movie, his son was only 6 years old and that was the day that he visited the set. He went and he saw this dinosaur, and he turned to his mom before we started shooting 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. And then, here he was, his son, in the presence of what he thought was a real dinosaur. It was just incredibly moving to me. So, that day in particular, because of that, felt really charged and meaningful.

Q: Obviously you’re a very well-known actress, but you’re also a director of many short films. I was wondering if you had any plans to direct a feature length film?

HOWARD: I’ve got the chance to direct a lot of short content which has been awesome and I love that. I would love to do a feature. I’m not currently developing anything right now, but I’m always reading scripts, and I would love to get to do that. It’d be great.

“Jurassic World” opens in theaters on June 12th.


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