Bryce Dallas Howard is a one-of-a-kind-woman under the bright lights of Hollywood. She is not one to bask in the glory of being a movie star; she’s simply someone who is in love with the magic of movie making.
From a very young age, Bryce has accompanied her father, Ron Howard, on many of his movie sets. She was shown the beauty and dedication that goes in to creating a film, and sheltered from the darker side of Hollywood. Which, to this day, Bryce and her husband, Seth are no where near the glitz and glam of Hollywood. Instead they chose to raise their children away from the hustle and bustle and settled in a quiet corner in NY. Like Bryce, Theodore and Beatrice frequently travel with her to film sets and even photo shoots. She’s determined to teach them they glory of film making.
She doesn’t live in a palm tree-framed glass box over Sunset Boulevard, but is instead raising her children (Theodore, 12, and Beatrice, 7) with her husband, actor Seth Gabel, in a leafy corner of Westchester County. She also deflects her leading lady status, pointing out that her role as Claire Dearing in the “Jurassic World” franchise was more of a “team role.”
“I haven’t been in the hot seat. I haven’t had the ‘It girl’ thing, that kind of pressure. The star of those films is the dinosaurs, really. And by the way, there’s also Chris Pratt,” she says, with another earthy, uproarious laugh.
Later this month, Howard plays Elton John’s mother, Sheila Dwight, in the musician’s biopic “Rocketman,” a major spectacle and a meditation on what it’s like to be born with an irrepressible, outsize talent, against all odds.
“Someone like Elton John, whose music is so vulnerable and human — that was something that was scary to the people around him,” she notes. It’s a way of thinking that was totally counter to Howard’s creative upbringing. “In my experience, it would be scary to the people around me if I wasn’t being vulnerable, if I wasn’t pushing and expanding upon what I could do.”
When her daughter Beatrice arrives at our Alexa shoot with a nanny, Howard all but skips over, making sure her little one has found something to nibble on from the catering spread. It’s a choice: buffering her children from some of the opulence that comes with fame, yet showing them how it all works, up close.
“I grew up in a very privileged situation, not necessarily because everything was perfect, but I was protected from certain experiences,” she recalls, referring to her childhood as the daughter of famed director Ron Howard and actress and writer Cheryl.
“My parents had expectations of us — moral expectations — but when it came to what we would pursue, the choices we made … they were so impeccable in that regard as parents: not projecting, letting us be who we are without enabling behaviors that might not be constructive. That I really appreciate. As a parent, you have to strike this balance of ensuring you are never oppressing your children, but still creating boundaries and structure.”
While she was sheltered from the darker side of Hollywood, her father’s film sets were an open book, including his hits “Splash” (where she tried on Daryl Hannah’s mermaid tail), “Parenthood” (where she had a small walk-on role) and “Far and Away” (where Tom Cruise stood in for her baby sitter). Her mom made sure the kids also saw the inside of local laundromats while they were on the road.
Howard was raised in preppy Greenwich, Conn., and attended public high school in Westchester County, going on to study at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. After being cast in a play called “Hamlet Machine,” she landed her agent.
“It was huge for me. I was completely naked onstage for 45 minutes — for someone who is 18, 19 years old, it was incredibly freeing and courage-building. It was like actors’ resilience training.”
After dropping out of NYU to pursue theater jobs, Howard says her parents didn’t support her financially, so she juggled odd jobs: at a daycare in the East Village, for a ’70s revue show at the Duplex called “Foxy Ladies” and as a dog walker. Soon after, she landed a role in “As You Like It” at the Public Theater, and eventually starred in the 2004 film “The Village,” directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Today, Howard occupies a prime position in the industry: well-liked and powerful enough to be able to speak frankly about the challenges of being a woman in Hollywood.
In 2017, Vanity Fair dubbed her “The Everywoman’s Red-Carpet Icon” after she revealed that she had to buy her award-show gowns off the rack — gasp — at stores like Nordstrom or Topshop because she was a size 6 and not a sample size zero or 2. If she’s criticized for a look, she says, “I don’t absorb any of it. I don’t personalize it. It’s definitely not crushing or embarrassing. This is my quiet rebellion.”
It was not always so, and in 2012, a tabloid published an unflattering photo of Howard walking on the street with her daughter, just four months postpartum.
“After I had Beatrice I had some autoimmune stuff come up, where I gained a lot of weight after having her. Everything is fine now — the short story is I just can’t eat gluten for the rest of my life. But at the time, there was this pair of bright blue sweatpants that I just loved. We worked with a baby nurse who was like, ‘Bryce, please get rid of these blue sweatpants.’ One day my husband came in and he was like, ‘Can you just sit down … someone photographed you carrying Bea.’ And I looked at him, ‘In the blue sweatpants?’ And I just burst into tears. That was one moment where I felt — this is vulnerable, this is private, and I wasn’t prepared to be seen.”
Since then, Howard has embraced an anti-diet approach, working with intuitive eating specialist Isabel Foxen Duke. Says Howard: “The only option is for you to have the body that you were born with.”
She recalls seeing Meryl Streep do press for “The Devil Wears Prada.” When asked if she had been pressured to lose weight for a role, Streep quipped, “Ha, they wouldn’t dare.”
That, says Howard, is what changed her thinking about her body as it relates to her craft — as well as her own power in the industry.
She has launched her own production company, Nine Muses Entertainment, recently directed an episode of the Jon Favreau-produced Star Wars series “The Mandalorian,” and is currently teaching a class at NYU called “Mastery and Making it as a Multi-Hyphenate Artist” (in layman’s terms: an actor-writer-director).
Howard isn’t shy about her own triple-threat ambitions. Or her desire to see more inclusivity in the industry she’s summited. She says she has found the impact of the #MeToo movement “exhilarating,” and is doing her best to see that the next generation of filmmakers is able to tell a wider range of stories, inviting some of her students to intern with her at Nine Muses.
“In terms of my class, I’ve had 12 students this past semester and two of the students are men, the other 10 are women. Eight of the people in the class are people of color. It’s a different conversation I’m able to have with them [about their futures in the industry] because the world has changed for the better.”
Indeed, she seems prouder to stand out as a mentor than for her celebrity. When she takes the train from her home in Westchester into the city to teach, she still often manages to evade recognition. “I said to someone recently, ‘I think that maybe I’m a genius at not being famous.’”New York Post
View these and more images from the photo shoot in our gallery → Here