As a child, Bryce Dallas Howard was obsessed with the 1977 rendition of Pete’s Dragon. “We watched it constantly in my house,” she reveals. So when she heard rumblings that Disney was putting its own spin on the classic tale, Howard was adamant about hopping on board. Her children were just as excited. The actress, who at a press preview for the film revealed that she was using the promise of seeing the movie as leverage for getting her children to do their chores, says she has earned some major cool points from her clan. “My kids are thrilled!” she exclaims, adding that they have recently added a variety of Elliott stuffed animals to their mommy collection, which includes her Jurassic World action figure.
Ahead of the film’s August 12th premiere, we caught up with Bryce to discuss making the transition from dinosaurs to dragons, trying to keep her composure while working with Robert Redford, and what she loves most about the Pete’s Dragon story.
So you seem to land all the fun roles. What was it like going from running from dinosaurs to hanging out with dragons?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Well, I mean…[laughs] Really fun. It’s so bizarre. Weirdly enough, I didn’t make kind of the connection until a little bit later where I was like, “Oh, yeah. I’m working with large reptiles that start with a D.” [Laughs] I mean my kids are thrilled. My kids are just like, “What’s next, Mom? What incredible, fun, wish fulfillment are you going to fill next?”
And at the press preview day you had said they were so excited that you had had them watch the trailer and you were kind of using the promise of seeing the film as a means to get them to go to bed early…
Bryce Dallas Howard: Yes, yes. Totally, yes. I’m going to dangle that carrot as long as I possibly can. They are so excited to see this film. My daughter came downstairs today…because we got some stuffed animals of Elliott. And she came downstairs like holding one Elliott in one arm and another Elliott in another arm. And I was just like, “Oh, my gosh…!” I mean it’s amazing to me that my kids are looking forward to this.
Do they have Jurassic Word action figures of you?
Bryce Dallas Howard: They do! [laughs] Yeah, my kids have my Lego character. I found out that my daughter was carrying me in her pocket when I was out of town one time. Yeah, she carried me in her pocket the entire weekend.
Bryce Dallas Howard: Right. Exactly.
And you’ve been chasing after this story for a long time. What is it about Pete’s Dragon that you love so much?
Bryce Dallas Howard: When I was a kid I was obsessed with the 1977 film. We watched it constantly in my house. I think what I loved most about that movie was the fact that it was the first time that I saw a live action film with animation. So it was like a real boy with a dragon. That to me was absolutely incredible. And, of course, the friendship between the two. As a kid you were just like, “I want to have a best friend who’s a dragon,” all of that.
And so, when I heard they were doing a Pete’s Dragon now, I was mostly curious, like how they were going to do them and what their take on it was. And then I saw that it was really the story…while the central idea was inspired by the film, the story was something completely new, and yet it had that real boy with a dragon. And I just felt that this was a beautiful film that I desperately wanted to be a part of.
It was really well done.
Bryce Dallas Howard: Oh my gosh! Thank you!
What was it like working with the amazing Robert Redford? I heard that he was totally laid back and that he told you to call him Bob.
Bryce Dallas Howard: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. I didn’t know what to expect. He’s an icon many times over. He’s just super cool you can only be really kind of freaking out for a very short period of time when you meet him because he’s so chill that you’re like, “OK. I need to be a real person here because he’s just being a real person. I don’t want to be a weirdo at this moment.” Yeah, he’s awesome.
And Jurassic Word 2, very excited. What you can you tell us other than the fact that you won’t be running in heels?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I think I can’t say anything more than that, [laughs] honestly. We’re going to shoot it next year and I’m really excited. And we’re all getting really pumped. It’s great. It’s very cool that it’s going to happen.
I’m hearing rumors that there might be some of the old people like Laura Dern joining. Would you be excited if that happened?
Bryce Dallas Howard: Of course. Absolutely of course.
Pete’s Dragon opens in U.S. theaters August 12, 2016.