Ron Howard is a Hollywood legend. He’s been in the business since he was a little kid, moving his career effectively from being seen as an endearing actor (Happy Days) to a dependable director/producer (Apollo 13)—while also finding the time to narrate Arrested Development. Now, his daughter seems to be falling suit. Bryce Dallas Howard is a bonafide movie star, recently toplining the Jurassic World franchise and appearing in the acclaimed Rocketman. But she also directed an episode of The Mandalorian, and has a new documentary called Dads coming soon. At the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, our very own Steve Weintraub spoke with Ron Howard, screening his documentary Rebuilding Paradise. The two chatted about Bryce Dallas Howard’s entry into the Star Wars-verse—and how she and Ron influenced each other on not only that show, but on Ron’s Star Wars movie Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Ron Howard got to see his daughter’s Mandalorian episode (“The Sanctuary”) early, and he loved it, expressing how proud he was of her. He even gave her some notes on where her cut could go. Did she take those notes? “Most ignored,” admitted Ron with a wry grin. “She is my daughter. Why would she listen to anything I say?” And while Ron gave props to Jon Favreau, creator of The Mandalorian, for showing his daughter the ropes, he also revealed that she was on set for Solo trying to learn some ropes before.
Bryce Dallas Howard wanted to shadow her father while he directed the Han Solo adventure. And Ron Howard, of course… said “No”?! Wait, why? He explained why he was worried having his daughter around might throw things off:
“She’s not really a daughter, she’s a movie star. With a young cast feeling a lot of pressure on Solo, I wasn’t necessarily sure how comfortable everyone would [be] with Bryce around. But she convinced me to try it for a day or two, and of course everybody fell in love with her because she’s that kind of person. And it was great having her around, and she had a couple of pretty great suggestions.”
Did Ron take those suggestions? Of course he did. After all, she is his daughter.
Ron Howard also got a bit into “the circumstances of the way I wound up being involved in Solo.” As you may remember, that film was originally set to be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street). But after a series of fraught behind-the-scenes dramas and conflicts of working styles, that duo was taken off the project and replaced by Howard. He called the resulting filmmaking style, “almost a rewrite and a continuation, and there was a certain percentage of the film that hadn’t been shot at all yet… We were pretty targeted as to what we were making.”
And the Star Wars fandom, which has a troubling precedent of sliding into toxicity, had a lot of thoughts about the Solo drama. Did that affect Howard at all? Not really! “I had a blast making that movie, and it did remind me that I really enjoy that kind of playful storytelling and the action, and I love tech. I love actors more, but it’s great what you can offer audiences.” In fact, Howard took some advice from an OG on how to deal with those types of fans:
“George Lucas is a mentor, a tremendous friend. He warned me, and he said, ‘Hey look, it’s for the fans, and yet you have to have the courage to hear them but tell the story you wanna tell.’ So he’s all for the galaxy expanding and experimenting. That’s what he prefers the most. He gets most excited about those that wanna push the boundaries of what a Star Wars movie or TV show [can be].”
So will we ever get to see Mr. Howard follow his daughter’s footsteps and direct a Mandalorian episode himself? Watch the interview clip above and find out for yourself. And make sure to catch his inspiring documentary Rebuilding Paradise, in theatres later this year.
For more of Collider’s Sundance 2020 coverage, click here. Look for Steve’s full interview with Ron Howard early next week.
Finally, we have to thank our presenting partner, the Kia Telluride SUV, which was recently named the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. Additional thanks to support sponsors Glenfiddich Scotch, Peroni Beer, Marbl Toronto, mou footwear, ic! Berlin sunglasses and clothing lines, Laundry by Sheli Segal and Orginal Penguin.