Bryce Dallas Howard Talks 'Jurassic World' Movie Magic & Character Arcs

Bryce Dallas Howard in 'Jurassic World'

When you meet Bryce Dallas Howard's character Claire in Jurassic World, you will not like her. Howard readily admits that you should want the money-obsessed, morally questionable, corporate shill of an executive to get eaten. This is of course by design. When Screen Rant sat down with Howard recently, she addressed the fact that Claire has a lot of work to do in order to grow and convince the audience she should survive through to the end of the movie.

NO spoilers, naturally, but Howard's take on the matter in the conversation below makes a lot of sense to us, as does her love for the "wild sleepover party" aspect of night shoots and why director Colin Trevorrow's idea to have the raptors performed by professional dancers is an "inspired" choice.

What for you was the most surreal or magical moviemaking day?

The animatronic dinosaur for sure, but when we were shooting the final sequence of the movie we were shooting it all at night which is always awesome. I love night shooting because you basically all become best friends because it's as if there's no other human beings on the planet. When you're awake, everyone else is asleep and it also feels very rebellious, it feels like a wild sleepover party where you stay up all night long and everyone inevitably starts getting delirious by the end of it, I think night shooting is ridiculously fun. And also we were shooting on the boardwalk of the park that had been built, so because we were doing such epic stuff too, it was when it most felt like a Jurassic film. It was an awesome experience and just getting to be on that set and imagining that we're surrounded by dinosaurs it felt, a term I always used, it felt "classic Jurassic" [laughs].

The two boys, Nick and Ty, spoke about some of the movie magic involved in having the raptor dancers on set, the muscle-bound crew guys in mo-cap suits acting as the dinosaurs in the petting zoo, the bursts of air used to film the pteranodon scene, what for you was the most fun of the practical dinosaur effects and going into your own imagination to react to them?

Aside from the animatronic dinosaur, which was basically as close as it comes to having a real dinosaur there, all of the above. Having the raptors, having those characters be performed via motion capture was a very inspired idea on Colin's part because we were actually responding to a real performance. And then ultimately when there were things where we needed to react to nothing, we had the context of the animatronic dinosaur and the raptors so it helped us to understand what we might be responding to even though it was a dinosaur that was in the sky.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in 'Jurassic World'
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in 'Jurassic World'

Chris mentioned a pre vis or animation sequence you referenced as well?

Yes, helped enormously. Colin had mapped out every single sequence and so we were always able to ask him, "What are we looking at?" "Where are we within this?" "What stage are we in the action sequence, is it a 10? A seven? A five? What's the spectrum of emotions?" He always had fantastic tools for us to reference so it made it a lot easier.

I love that there is an arc with your character. That there are moments where you see her reconsidering her corporate exterior, it's nice to see her unravel in the best way. Was that always built-in?

Always. That was something Colin talked about when he talked me through the story before there was even a script. What I like so much about the character is kind of the challenge in playing someone unlikable, when you first meet her you are sort of like, "Someone eat this person." To play someone who kind of turns the notion of what a strong woman is on its head, she's a C-level executive with enormous responsibility, most of all the responsibility of the business and protecting the bottom line and because of that, she has disconnected with her own humanity. When you first meet her you think she's in control, you think she's in a position of authority but the truth is, she really isn't and it isn't until she evolves and reconnects with her own humanity that her choices are in alignment with her values that her most powerful self emerges. Something that I always feel for myself and have to remind myself is that there is nothing more powerful than vulnerability. Strength comes from vulnerability and at the beginning of the film this is a woman who would never allow herself to be vulnerable and because of that she makes a lot of just devastating mistakes and yet she redeems herself and that is a remarkable arc to get to play, which was really juicy, really fun.

If they haven't already, I can feel that people are going to nitpick your character having to run in heels and the "You should have kids" subject forced on her. Have you felt that yet? What do you think of it?

Well, I think that these are all really worthy discussions. We all want to move things forward.

Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World
Bryce Dallas Howard in 'Jurassic World'

And it is better that people have questions and something to talk about afterward rather than just not being affected by anything at all.

Yes. It's all about mindfulness. There's this great campaign called "Ban Bossy." Have you seen the "Ban Bossy" campaign? It's incredible, check it out. It's basically asking to ban the word "bossy." When is a man called "bossy?" No, he's "the boss." And when is a woman referred to as "bossy?" It's incredibly undermining to call somebody who is assertive and focused and intelligent "bossy" and that happens all the time. Even when I saw that campaign, it provided me with a sense of awareness about that word and I'll never use that word again. I think the role of women and men in storytelling, it's important for people within the storytelling community to acknowledge the impact that these stories have and the messages that they send out. The solution is not to have perfect men or perfect women. The solution is for there to be realism and an arc and honesty.

You mentioned the thing about kids and whatnot and that, fortunately or unfortunately, is a question that is often posed and pushed. I think that is definitely a reflection of our culture and our times. And the heels, I remember as I was getting into puberty and reading a lot of feminist manifestos and whatnot, thinking to myself, how do you hold onto your femininity? My greatest strength is my femininity, my greatest strength is that I'm a woman, that makes me amazing is that I'm a woman. I don't want to try to act like a man. Strong to me is not acting like a man, it's owning the fact that I'm a woman and going out there and being my flawed, vulnerable, courageous self. And so I think for this character, she's so buttoned-up in the beginning you kind of want to mess her up and she does get messed up. And I might have said this in the press conference but when she first gets to the jungle, Chris' character says a line like, "in those ridiculous heels, no less" and something that was perceived as her handicap ultimately is her greatest strength is something that was important to me. That doesn't mean I walk around in my life in heels.


Jurassic World opens in theaters June 12, 2015.

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