Bryce Dallas Howard lives a fairly awesome Hollywood life, sharing the screen with hungry dinosaurs and telling the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda what to do while sitting in a director’s chair. She also loves stunt work, although Howard is not yet ready to become the next Tom Cruise.
“I want be able to do as much as possible that is never going to slow production down, but my rule is that insurance has to cover it,” Howard says, adding one of her frequent and infectious laughs that delightfully pepper an interview.
In the new sci-fi action adventure “Jurassic World Dominion” (in theaters now), Howard’s character, Claire Dearing – who has evolved from theme park manager in heels to dino-saving hero in sensible footwear over three “Jurassic World” films – navigates a rooftop chase, hides underwater from a gigantic beast and parachutes out of a plane, then is attacked by a deadly winged Quetzalcoatlus. For the plane stunt, director Colin Trevorrow asked whether she wanted to do it for real, Cruise style, “and thank God, insurance came to the rescue,” Howard quips.
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In the end, Howard performed her scenes in a chair on a soundstage but still got banged up enough that co-star Chris Pratt begged her to post on Twitter the aftermath pictures taken by a makeup artist.
“I’m a redhead,” Howard says, “so the colors of my bruises are very fluorescent and unusual, I guess.”
And in the movie business, she’s making her mark by taking after her Oscar-winning father, Ron Howard, starting as an actor and then building a promising resume as a director. She helmed the Apple TV+ documentary “Dads” (which featured her dad and late grandfather Rance) and has won over hard-to-please “Star Wars” fans directing an episode in each of the two seasons of Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” (with another set for the upcoming third season), plus a chapter of “The Book of Boba Fett.”
When asked whether making her own “Star Wars” film is a goal, Howard responds like a wise 41-year-old Jedi: “If I’ve learned anything from ‘Star Wars,’ it’s very important to practice non-attachment,” Howard says, adding that her galactic work has been “a dream come true. I have pinched myself so many times, you have no idea.”
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Her dad is no stranger to that universe – Howard shadowed him when he was directing “Solo: A Star Wars Story” – and it was time spent on her father’s sets as a child where an interest in filmmaking first blossomed. “I liked it most out of all the kids,” says Howard, the oldest of four. “My parents knew the most effective punishment for me was to say, ‘If you talk back to us or something, then you’re not going to be allowed to go to set.’ ”
That mindset carried over to her acting career. After small parts in her father’s films “Parenthood,” “Apollo 13” and “A Beautiful Mind,” Howard scored her first lead role playing a blind girl in M. Night Shyamalan’s twisty 2004 period thriller “The Village.” For months before filming started, she’d drive out to his Pennsylvania farm and production office and hang out all day “watching the storyboarding process, seeing how he was developing the creatures, watching the cast tapes,” Howard recalls. “That sort of tagging-along vibe, I can’t shake it. And I would never want to, ever.”
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Since then, Howard has been “incredibly intentional,” working with directors such as Kenneth Branagh (“As You Like It”), Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man 3”) and Clint Eastwood (“Hereafter”). “Every job has been a master class in directing,” she says. On “Jurassic World Dominion,” she asked Trevorrow to shadow him on days she wasn’t working, but he said no. “He was like, ‘As a filmmaker, I want people to perceive you as my equal.’ He bolsters me up a lot and encourages me to direct, probably more than anyone.”
Because of her experience, Trevorrow says, Howard can recognize “the heartbeat of a movie” and has “a deep, fundamental understanding of the craft.”
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But unlike her father, whose acting career spanned his childhood and early adulthood before he transitioned to full-time filmmaking, Howard wants to stay on both sides of the camera as long as possible.
“One of the things that my dad has said he’s missed the most about acting is getting to see other directors work,” says Howard, who teaches a class at New York University on being a multi-hyphenate in the entertainment industry. “When you direct, you have your set, but you’re not actually getting to be exposed to the way other people do it. It’s what I crave. It’s one of the main reasons why I would never want to give up acting. Never.”
Howard next co-stars alongside Henry Cavill, John Cena and Dua Lipa in Matthew Vaughn’s Apple TV+ spy film “Argylle.” And as a director, she has several “possible adventures that could happen,” including a redo of Disney’s 1986 film “Flight of the Navigator,” now in development.
Could she one day mount the next “Jurassic” reboot? “I would never let her direct ‘Jurassic Space,’ ” Trevorrow says with a chuckle. “I would strongly advise against it.”
Howard, though, admits she could be game: “Who knows? I’ve got to practice that non-attachment.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘Jurassic World’: Bryce Dallas Howard lives for stunts and ‘Star Wars’