In the new Pete’s Dragon movie, Bryce Dallas Howard plays the nature-loving forest ranger, Grace. She takes an instant liking to Pete. She’s fully vested in finding out where he came from, how he survived alone in the forest for six years, and how to give him a happy life from here on. During the last press event, my group was able to chat with Bryce about her role. She was actually pretty excited to talk with us since, for much of her son’s few years, she often read a lot of mom blogs. 🙂
You guys are responsible for all of my parenting choices.
Bryce Dallas Howard Interview — Remaking Pete’s Dragon
To Bryce, the 1977 version of Pete’s Dragon was special. It was one of the movies she and her sisters watched over and over as children (her brother is six years younger so he doesn’t count in this instance).
The script of Pete’s Dragon reminded her of classic Disney films that highlighted basic American values. There was another reason she was interested in the remake, though.
I brought it up to my kids and they were like, “Dinosaurs and now dragons?!” So that was definitely a motivating factor, for sure.
Shooting in New Zealand was quite nostalgic for Bryce. 30 years prior, she was there with her family when her father shot Willow. She vividly remembers that time. Now, she was able to share that experience with her own children. Even after three decades, the area was just the same as when she was a kid.
Bryce Dallas Howard Interview — Shooting Pete’s Dragon
Before, Bryce identified with the child in the 1977 Pete’s Dragon. Now, she identifies with the parent in the new movie. But, she didn’t want to create a complex character since the focus should be on the dragon. That was challenging, though. It was something her husband said that simplified everything.
You’ve been doing this for almost ten years. Just infuse this character the relationship and the dynamic you have with our kids. Just be with Pete how you talk to [our kids].
On set, she said it was like a traveling circus but that it felt like a family early on. The actors and directors had their children with them and they were all comfortable with each other. Of course, we couldn’t NOT touch on what it’s like to work with Robert Redford. She mentioned how she enjoyed long conversations with him.
It’s less a conversation and more just me peppering him with questions. It was incredible. He’s a family man and raising kids in this industry and in this world. He has a lot of perspective on that and it was wonderful to learn from him and to be around him and admire him.
Her favorite moment during shooting was when she was able to “ride” on Elliot.
I was just in hysterics that whole day. I was sitting behind Wes last night at the premiere and I grabbed his shoulders when we were watching it… We were just losing it the whole time because we’re adults and we have kids and we’re like, “Aahh! We’re on a dragon!”
She said they set it up almost like a Disneyland ride. They had harnesses and had to climb up a pretty high on a ladder. Then it would move around like a ride. When asked about her favorite Disney movie, she mentioned The Little Mermaid. She could relate to the red hair. She also did some pretty crazy stuff (don’t try this at home).
I would put on a leotard and then I would tie my legs together and I would throw myself in the pool. I did it many times, so dangerous. I actually have a memory of the last time I did this. [I was] underwater, looking up, and thinking to myself, “This is really not good,” and starting to panic really bad.
Bryce Dallas Howard Interview — How Pete’s Dragon Affected Her
I asked Bryce what her first reaction was to seeing the finished Pete’s Dragon film. The first time Bryce watched the film, she was with her husband. After the first five minutes, they were both in tears. It’s just that good.
Being in the movie and then being able to watch it and experience it in a way that it’s intended to be experienced definitely caught me off guard. That was my first reaction. I was really moved by it and surprised by how much.
Spending time in the New Zealand wilderness, often without cell reception, shifted her thinking. Being “surrounded by nature and in a serene state where there is no fear” is now something she really wants for her kids. She had it so much when young since she grew up in the woods in Connecticut. She would love to share that experience with her children.
We always yearn for our childhoods and we always yearn to, in a way, either to transform it or to give it to our children.
We had such a great talk with Bryce. I love how she ended the interview by asking us a question. She wanted to know for which ages we thought the movie would be good for. Well, you’ll have to read my Pete’s Dragon movie review to find that out. 😉
Pete’s Dragon will be in theaters August 12, 2016!
- Visit the official website: http://movies.disney.com/petes-dragon-2016
- Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyPetesDragon
- Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneypetes
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of Disney in honor of the Pete’s Dragon movie. All opinions are my own.