Bryce Dallas Howard On How Jurassic World Helped Prep Her For Pete's Dragon


Pete's Dragon is the Disney remake of the classic film of the same name of surrounds the adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just so happens to be a dragon.

Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, The Help), plays Grace in Pete's Dragon.

We caught up with Howard in Los Angeles to talk about interacting with dragons and playing a part in a childhood favourite film.

Were you a fan of Pete's Dragon before you stepped into Grace's shoes?

Bryce Dallas Howard: Yes, I was. Yes. That's actually how I came to be involved was because I heard that there was going to be a Pete's Dragon and I was like, "What are they going to do?" 'cause we watched that film non-stop when I was kid.

I got the film and read it and there was the title and there's an orphaned boy who's friends with a dragon and that's about it. It's a completely different film and a film that I thought was just so beautiful and not at all what I expected and I really, really want to be a part of this, but it was interesting because my first thing was - what are they going to do with candle in the water? I was more protective, I would say.

Were you offered the role because of your familiarity with dinosaurs in Jurassic World?

Howard: (laughs) Jurassic World hadn't come out yet, but I read the script and just expressed interest. I didn't audition, but I didn't hear back for six months.

Had you shot Jurassic World before Pete's Dragon?

Howard: Yeah, right beforehand.

Was it strange to be working with two different sets of imaginary animals?

Howard: Yes, it was and I still mix them up. When I say "dragon" sometimes I mean "dinosaur" and when I say "dinosaur" sometimes I mean "dragon". Yeah.

When you knew you were going to be playing Grace did you do any research on park rangers and their responsibilities?

Howard: Yeah, of course. I really wanted to - there wasn't a lot of technical jargon or anything like that - but, I wanted to have an understanding of what this woman's life would be like and how she came to be a parking ranger and this year it's the centennial of the National Parks Foundation and I had actually known that because I'm one of those members who goes to all the parks with my kids. I viewed it from that perspective as well because, when I was a kid as well, my family vacations that's what we would do. Go to those parks. We would take car trips to all these places and that this is a character whose main objective is to protect - to protect that forest - and that transitions to Pete.

Can you talk a little bit about working with Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence?

Howard: We just had a really great time together and I have a lot of respect for them as individuals and as actors and sometimes it's even more fun working with kids than adults because it's that sense of play and imagination is so much closer to children, so much more practiced at that point in life and, so we just had a really, really good time together.

I heard from them that the big car pileup at the movie's climax was mostly practical effects, so I wanted to know what your experience was like doing some of the more practical stunts?

Howard: Well, it's always good. The more practical effects that you can have in a movie, the better because it feels real, so, yeah. That's always good, but it's interesting because my background is more in theatre and in theatre you're imagining pretty much everything. You can't actually see anything.

My first movie was this movie and I remember showing up and being like, "Whoa! They built the village!" It exists! Here we are in the movie!

That's always - even when you're dealing with green screen - we were shooting in the forest in New Zealand. It felt very, very real. I heard about movies where you shoot everything on a soundstage and that, I think, would be really hard, but when you're actually out in nature or in the real location where you're shooting at, it grounds you so much more and it makes it so much easier.

There's a lot of obvious messages for children to take away, but what do you think adult audience members should take away from this version of Pete's Dragon?

Howard: Well, for me, my takeaway really was - and this may be the character that I played as well - but, the magic and miracle of family and this is a story of what it takes to find your family when you've lost your family and that is, I think, the miracle of being a human being in a lot of ways is that we can find one another and take care of one another and we don't have to be connected by experiences or blood or anything, but we can become one another's family and I think that was - I mean, my character during this story, she essentially becomes a mother. That's what her journey is.

My husband told me early on when I was prepping and I was like, "I don't want to be like the grown up character that's boring." I didn't want to over-complicate it, but I wanted to make sure I was a real person, but my husband told me, "Bryce, I think it's simple. I think you speak to Pete the way you talk to our kids." and I was like, "Oh. Right!" Yeah, she becomes his mother. Right.

That, for me watching the movie, I was really seeing myself for the first time, objectively, as a mother on screen. Yeah, so I think I was reminded as well about the miracle of being a parent and the miracle of having my own family and the magic within that.


So what do you think readers? Does this get you excited for Pete's Dragon? Let us know in the comments below!

Pete's Dragon is in theaters everyone on August 12, 2016.