With Jurassic World opening this weekend, I landed an exclusive interview with Bryce Dallas Howard. She talked about when she first knew the movie was going to be good, her close relationship with Josh Gad, the smart way they used real time in the film to help tell the story, deleted scenes, working with director Colin Trevorrow, why she wanted to be part of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon remake and what it’s about, if she’ll ever direct a feature, and a lot more.
If you didn’t know, executive producer Steven Spielberg personally oversaw the story development as Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly fine-tuned the existing screenplay penned by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), which for the first time takes place within a functioning Jurassic Park. The film also stars Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, and Judy Greer.
Question: I’ll start by saying congratulations on this movie. It’s really, really good.
BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD: Oh, good! I’m glad you feel that way!
It’s legit. I heard the hype out of the Paris premiere and I’m like, ‘Are they just saying that?’ Josh Gad was really enthusiastic and I trust him.
HOWARD: [Laughs] Do you know my deal with Josh Gad?
HOWARD: The reason why he was there is because he came from London for the premiere. Josh is one of my best friends in the world. He is the Godfather of my kids.
I did not know that.
HOWARD: He’s been best friends with my husband since kindergarten.
HOWARD: Yeah, since Hebrew school in Florida.
No! That is bizarre that they both made it in Hollywood.
HOWARD: Yeah, I know. It’s incredible! And then Josh, we’ve lived together a lot too because when he first came out to LA he was living with us and so his nickname is Filth because he is the most filthy human being that you can imagine to live with. But we’re the Godparents to his kids, he’s the Godparent to our kids, he’s family. I’m gonna tell Josh that you said that though and you didn’t even know!
I DMed him earlier. We’re friendly but I didn’t know any of that.
HOWARD: Yeah, tell him. He’s family!
This is so not the direction I was going in with this interview, but, you know, sometimes people say things at the premiere like, ‘Oh, it’s so good,’ but they’re hyping it. But it’s like legitimately people are going to love this movie and it’s going to make a ridiculous sum of money. You’ve done some high-profile things in the past. Jurassic is like the next level. People really love these movies. It’s a really big deal. When did you know, ‘Oh shit, this movie came together. This is actually really good?’
HOWARD: When I saw it. Before I even talked with Colin [Trevorrow], just as someone who kind of knew that the movie was happening and this was back in March of 2013, I remember I talked with my friends and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m gonna get to speak with the director who directed Safety Not Guaranteed and he’s awesome and he’s directing Jurassic World. Ugh, man, I just hope they don’t screw this up because it’s my childhood,’ and I was really nervous just as an audience member. And then when I talked with Colin and he described the story and kind of the in into the story, that it’s 22 years later, at that time it was 20 years later, and the park is open but people aren’t impressed with dinosaurs anymore, I just remember thinking, ‘Oh yeah, that’s exactly what it would be like,’ and there was a sense of self-awareness that he imbued into this story that I think was really present in the first film and critical, and so immediately all my concern was replaced by enthusiasm. And then we wrapped the film, and then I’ve had almost a year to think about it and to stress about it. [Laughs]
And probably having everyone asking you about it.
HOWARD: I know, I know, I know. And so when I saw it just a few weeks ago, man I was so excited. I was so happy. And that one wasn’t with an audience and then when I saw it at the Paris premiere I saw it with an audience and I was like, ‘Ok, I mean, Colin did it, man. Holy cow.’
He lifted the beast, he really did. I think this movie works maybe more so than the other sequels, if you will, because it had enough time to incorporate real time and exactly what you said, which is the park. It would be like in real-life. Disneyland is no longer special until they open a new attraction.
HOWARD: Yes, yes. And all the hilarious references to corporate sponsorship, it was so funny and so real. That’s what’s cool about this movie now is that a lot has changed in the last 22 years, and not just with technology but just culturally, like our culture has completely transformed. I mean, at its core, sci-fi stories, for me, it’s like they’re two things. It’s the “what if,” it’s the fun of the “what if,” and then it’s the cautionary tale of the “what if” and that at its essence is what Michael Crichton intended. He wrote Jurassic Park as a cautionary tale, and here we are now it’s 22 years later and it’s all the more relevant because we really get focused on the next coolest thing but we don’t always step back and think, “Okay, what sort of an impact is this gonna have on our survival?” [Laughs]
I heard that you had a deleted scene where you and Chris [Pratt] covered yourselves with dinosaur feces.
And it’s not in the movie, so are you like, “Colin, what the F?”
HOWARD: No, no! The scene is awesome and I love the scene. It was so shooting it as well. But I get it completely, because this movie is action-packed and it’s exactly 2 hours, and it was more of a scene where it was funny and there were a lot of moments of humor in terms of behavior and our characters’ personalities really came out, but there’s not a lot of tension and this movie is so suspenseful and so tense, and so it’s a bit of a balancing act where you need to just figure out like, “Okay, given all these plates that we’re spinning, what’s gonna keep the tension moving along?” I think that might have been one of the only scenes that was even cut though. I mean, the movie is what the script was. This is what Colin envisioned from the beginning, which was really impressive. So yeah, I wasn’t surprised that that was left out, and that’s gonna be kind of like a fun thing on the Blu-ray, you know?
I also have to talk about Pete’s Dragon because I’m actually legitimately excited for that one. There’s been no footage release, no anything because obviously a lot of VFX. What was it about that project that made you say, “I need to do this,” and what was it like making it? What can you tease people?
HOWARD: You know what? The story actually reminds me a lot of – I mean, this is kind of a ridiculous thing to say because you don’t want to compare anything to it, a master, but it was reminiscent for me of a lot of the greatest [Hayao] Miyazaki films, and I watched his documentary right at the beginning of shooting and I sent it to David Lowery, the director, and he watched it and he was like, “Oh my gosh, I totally know what you’re talking about.” So there’s an innocence to the film and to the story that’s really beautiful. The movie takes place in the early 80s and so for me that’s when I grew up, I was born in the early 80s, and so it felt so much kind of like those classic 80s movies that you love about kids doing extraordinary things and going on adventures and kind of teaching the adults in their life just how to be a child again. So I think probably without giving away plot spoilers or whatnot, the film feels just really poignant and classic and sophisticated as well. David’s a very sophisticated filmmaker, and I love that studios are getting behind these amazing filmmakers who kind of have nothing to lose and tell stories from a place of purity and love and are not necessarily doing it at all because they’re careerists. They’re making the movie because it’s the movie that they’ve always wanted to make their whole life.
It is crazy that Colin got Jurassic and David got Pete’s Dragon.
HOWARD: I know, and that I got to witness these incredible moments in these individuals’ creative lives.
Yeah, it is because they don’t have the track record to be given these huge movies and yet listen, I like David’s work a lot so I’m very optimistic. You have directed some shorts. You have a genetic makeup in your family of directors. I’m just throwing that out there. Is directing features something that you are currently thinking about?
HOWARD: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Sure.
What is it gonna take? Is there a story you’ve been working on?
HOWARD: I haven’t been developing anything, but I’m always reading scripts and it just comes down to if I come across a story that I feel I really want to step into the role of being the storyteller, then I will completely go for it. Because I love directing, absolutely love it, but I’ve also really loved getting to do short content because I’ve gotten to do a lot of different kinds of things and stuff that – you know, a feature takes two years whereas a 30 minute film takes a few months, so that’s been great for me just simply in terms of education.
Is it one of those things where you’d be like, “So dad, I have a position for 1st AD. You wanna hang out for a little bit? You can be the 2nd AD if you’re lucky. I’ll maybe help you get a DGA card.”
HOWARD: [Laughs] Oh man, oh man. Oh, gosh. It’s so funny because he’s like the opposite of a stage parent because he’s very emotionally supportive and excited about everything, but I remember with this movie, I asked Colin if he could read the script and he was like, “Yeah, absolutely,” and then I go to my dad and I was like, “Do you wanna read the script?” He’s like, “No, I wanna see the movie!” [Laughs] And so, in stuff that I work on and everything, I’ll be like, “Can I send this to you to get some notes?” And he’s like, “Well, just send it to me a little bit later. I wanna see where you kind of take it.” He’s very, I don’t know, yeah, he’s not super involved in those areas.
HOWARD: Yeah, yeah!
I totally get it. That’s the way I am too, when people offer me scripts I’m like, “F that.”
HOWARD: You’re like, “No! I wanna see the movie!” Yeah.
My last thing for you. What are you thinking about for the future? What’s coming up for you? Oh, and I have to ask, when you sign on for Jurassic World, does that mean you sign like a multi-picture deal? Because they’re obviously thinking about sequels.
HOWARD: Well, you know what? I mean, honestly, of course that’s a part of it. Like you know that there’s the possibility of more stories, but that’s certainly not something that is set in stone and any time I’ve done a movie that kind of has this scope, that’s always something, and up to this point, I’ve never done a sequel of a movie that I’ve been in. So honestly, I don’t know what’s ahead in terms of that, and for my career as well, I don’t know. I’m not signed up to anything right now. I know Pete’s is gonna come out next year, there’s gonna be something that I’m gonna direct, some more short content. I hope I get to do movies sooner rather than later. I mean, I love this, I love getting to be in films.
Sure, I that think the amount of casting directors and filmmakers that are gonna see this movie is going to, and I was saying this to some other people, that’s the best calling card, because everyone and their brother is seeing this movie.
HOWARD: Oh man, it’s cool. I mean, I’m so excited for this movie to come out. I’m dying.