Bryce Dallas Howard is not a face you forget. The actress, with her fiery red hair, pool-blue eyes, and porcelain skin, has been commanding audiences since her breakout role in the 2004 M. Night Shyamalan thriller The Village, which she followed up with turns in Spider-Man 3, 50/50, and The Help, among a string of others. And despite a nearly three-year hiatus from the big screen, Howard is yet again stealing the spotlight, this time in the summer blockbuster Jurassic World. In the film, Howard stars opposite Chris Pratt as Claire Dearing, the operations manager of the dinosaur theme park. “I really enjoyed playing her because she is complex, she’s flawed, she’s got a lot of different things going on,” the actress tells Who What Wear. With a global press tour in the works, projects slated through 2016, and two kids, Howard can relate.
Here, we talk to the star about working with the beloved Chris Pratt, stepping behind the camera, and finding herself through fashion. Keep reading for our exclusive interview.
What can fans of the Jurassic Park franchise expect from Jurassic World?
I think that just first off, speaking as a fan, what I was really excited about is that the premise of the movie is basically the actualization of Dr. John Hammond’s dream. This is a fully operational theme park with 20,000 visitors a day, and it’s happening and it’s in the world. And so that was something I was really stoked to see. When I first talked to Colin [Trevorrow], the director, I was like, “Oh my gosh this is awesome!” And I think it requires the time that has passed between the first film and this film in order to really tell that story, because it’s almost as if it happened in real time. You know, it would take over 20 years, definitely.
Everyone is buzzing about Chris Pratt. What was it like working with him?
Ah, he’s the best! It’s so funny; working with Chris Pratt is basically like working with a hero. He’s just the greatest human being, to put it simply—he’s super-charming and hilarious and genuine. He gives 100%, he’s really humble and gracious and thoughtful and loves his family. Him and Anna [Faris] are for sure my favorite couple. He’s just a really great guy, just an extraordinary human being. And I’m so, so glad that he’s doing so well, because he’s the best and he deserves it.
Did you find it hard not to laugh on set all the time?
I mean, we did. We didn’t have to break during takes or anything. You have fun, but especially with these big action movies, there’s always a little bit of an element of danger, or the pressure of time is really enormous on these sets because there is so much to accomplish in a given day. So you know, we had a total blast between takes. But usually if you have a flare in your hand or it’s pouring rain outside and you’re running through the mud in heels, nothing is quite funny enough to take you out of those moments to be like, “Oh yeah, I got a third-degree burn, but ha-ha.” But yeah, off camera we just had a heck of a time.
Credits: Zero + Maria Cornejo Charmeuse-Back Crepe Bomber Manta Gown ($1195) from Barneys New York in Beverly Hills; Carbon & Hyde Goldbar Necklace ($1150) in Rose Gold and Saturn Ring ($2530) in Rose Gold; Azlee Illuminate Ring ($1090) in Yellow Gold; Selin Kent Eva Pave Ring ($1750) in Rose Gold; Jennie Kwon Cage Cuff Ring ($985) in Yellow Gold; ERA Jewelry Arrow Link Ring with Diamonds ($395) in 14k Yellow Gold; Rupert Sanderson Estelle Heels ($765) in Twilight Suede.
You’ve stepped behind the camera to write and direct your own projects. What do you like about being on that side of things?
Directing is also so fun. I think what I love so much about directing is it is such a collaborative endeavor. Having the chance to reach out to certain people who you really respect or you really feel are talented, and working together as a team is something that is intoxicating, honestly. It’s basically—being a director, you’re sort of creating an event and throwing a party at the same time and picking a group of people that you are like, “Okay, this is going to have a lot of challenges, but I want to work through these kinds of challenges with you guys.” And so it’s really fun in that way. And obviously, as an actor, it’s my job to go in there and do my best and for every single moment give everything that I can and then step away, and oftentimes there will be scenes cut or there will be takes chosen that I could have never anticipated. And that’s a lot of the joy and fun of being an actor is seeing someone else’s vision and getting to be a part of it. Whereas as a director, it’s really your vision—it starts and ends with you. And then you get to work with fantastic people who elevate and craft and design that vision. It challenges you to take responsibility, which I think is a really great balance with a career as an actor.
Has your father [director Ron Howard] given you any career advice?
You know what, I’m actually surprised how little—I mean he’s not really one to offer up advice, and he really downplays the challenge of it. Like I remember before I started directing, he said, “Oh yeah, it’s going to be easy. Directing is easy; it’s not as hard as acting.” And that’s not true [laughs]. It’s different. Acting is perhaps a little more anxiety inducing, because you really need to perform. It’s like being an athlete. But he’s been doing it for so long, he almost—things that would typically need to be a decision for somebody are second nature to him and habitual. He’s such an effortless filmmaker, so he’s not usually dishing out a lot of advice. But whenever I do need advice, he’s a fantastic person to talk to!
Credits: Balmain Structured Cape Jacket ($4635) from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills; Nicholas Hem Bra Dress ($589) from Madison Los Angeles; Lana Jewelry Mirage Ear Cuffs ($1995) in Gold; Jill Hoffmeister Baguette Lariat ($1800) in Rose Gold.
Did you ever find it difficult to make a name for yourself growing up in a famous family?
In the beginning, when I first started working, I actually used the name Bryce Dallas, because I wanted that kind of space from [my dad’s] career, because I think most of all, honestly, I wanted to do right by him, and I didn’t want to be a distraction at all if I wasn’t good or if I started it, but ultimately it didn’t work out. I wanted the privacy through that process, because I didn’t want people to necessarily have opinions of that journey with him in mind. Like I really wanted to make sure it was about the work that I was generating as opposed to in context with my dad’s career. And I think in retrospect that was definitely good. But as I got a little older and started working more, I realized I’m so proud to be a part of my family, and it was more about my own insecurity and just wanting to get really pure feedback from people than wanting to be separated from my family. And also, Bryce Dallas sounds like a porn name.
Credits: Stella McCartney Silk Ruffle Trench Coat ($3260) and Silk Ruffle Tank Dress ($2175) from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills; Lana Jewerly Mirage Ear Cuff (1995) in Gold; Carbon & Hyde Mini Mikaela Ring (1840) in Rose Gold; Carbon & Hyde Mikaela Ring ($2760) in Rose Gold; Jennie Kwon Cage Cuff Ring ($985) in Yellow Gold.
What’s your stance on fashion? Is it a big part of your everyday life?
Listen, I’m into fashion, I’m for sure into fashion. It’s mostly for me about the visual, the creativity, the comfort level, or the confidence that clothes bring you. Putting [an outfit] together is always—it’s like you have to reconnect with yourself while you’re doing it. It really brings me into the present moment. I’m thinking, “What am I dressing for? Who do I want to be?” And that’s not some sort of self-help question, it’s like okay, I want to be relaxed, I want to be professional, I want to be comfortable, I want to be fun. That’s just an easy question to ask. And there is the obvious “What’s the weather going to be like?” And then you get to work and you look at your closet, and oftentimes I learn more about myself in those moments than if, say, I’m going to a yoga class where you are really supposed to connect with yourself. I find that through getting dressed, I connect with myself in a way that really resonates and is concrete. I realized that I’m actually more kind of modest and conservative than I think I would be. Because in work, I don’t care about nudity, I don’t care about how I look, really. It’s not about that. But in my day-to-day life, I realized whoa, I’m pretty conservative. I’ll wear something that’s body conscious or whatnot, but there’s usually not a lot of flesh. And then I’ll think right, I was raised in Greenwich, Connecticut; I’m part WASP. But it’s only through dressing that I really honor that side of myself—this aesthetically traditional person. And also I’ve learned through dressing myself and the different eras, I feel connected to what that might mean about my personality and me as a person.
Credits: Carven Multicolor Wave Lace Dress ($1390) from Nordstrom.
What are some of your fashion go-tos?
I love online shopping; it’s incredibly convenient. My staples I would say are, I mean, I get a lot of stuff online at Nordstrom, and then for nicer stuff Net-a-Porter is fantastic, and Kate Spade is really great—I’ve had a relationship with them for a while—and J.Crew. And those are sort of my staples when I’m going online and getting things. In terms of specific designers that I think I have a tendency to gravitate towards, I’ve found some great stuff recently with Michael Kors and Stella McCartney. And Zac Posen is a designer that I love and love working with.
What is the one piece you are wearing over and over again right now?
I really like my Citizens of Humanity bell-bottom jeans. I’m so into bell-bottoms—why did they ever go away? I’m going to hold on to them until the bitter end. They are so flattering, and I particularly like that these bell-bottoms are high-waisted. The silhouette of a high-waisted bell-bottom is really beautiful in my opinion. And I always like a dark wash. I’m into the midi skirt and the crop top; it’s really good for me when I need to be formal in any kind of way. And any striped shirt.
So what’s next?
Well I’m stoked for the Jurassic press, and it’s really fun because I’m not working with a stylist, so I’m actually getting to have a lot of those moments of meditating on what feels good to me. And then I’m going to be doing some more directing in June and an indie film in July, and my brother is getting married, and I’m looking forward to that. And hopefully some great family time! I’m taking a class—a UCLA course—that I’m finishing up, so maybe I’ll take some more. I’m very lucky this year, because I did a film called Pete’s Dragon, which I just came back from a few weeks ago in New Zealand. The seasons are opposite from here, so I went over there when it was winter here and summer there, and then I came back when it was summer here and winter there, so I think 2015 is a beautiful year because it’s the year of perpetual summer, and it actually feels like that as well.
Credits: Narciso Rodriguez dress ($1595) from Barneys New York Beverly Hills.
Photographer: Zoey Grossman
Hair: Derek Yuen
Makeup: Kara Bua
Stylist: Zoe Costello
Manicurist: Michelle Saunders
Location: Velaslavasay Panorama
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