Metro: Why Bryce Dallas Howard sister burst into tears about Pete’s Dragon.
By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada
Bryce Dallas Howard is in the middle of a long day of promoting her new film, Pete’s Dragon.
Up since the crack of dawn, she’s fresh and funny, cuddling a stuffed dragon on her lap as we speak. The plushy, she tells me, is both promotional and practical.
“I have my little plush toy,” she says. “He’s so cute, isn’t he? I also use him as a neck pillow on the plane. He’s absolutely functional.”
In this reboot of the much-loved 1977 Disney musical, Howard plays forest ranger Grace who discovers Pete (Oakes Fegley), a feral 10-year-old mystery boy who says he has survived, solo, in the woods for six years.
“Nobody can survive in a forest for six years,” says her father (Robert Redford), “at least not alone.”
“He says he wasn’t alone,” replies Grace.
Turns out, Pete’s friend and provider is a giant, furry green dragon named Elliott.
“When I heard there was going to be another Pete’s Dragon I asked to read the script,” she says.
“Not because I had any knowledge of there being a role, I was just really curious about what they would do.
“I had mixed feelings. I thought, ‘How are they going to do a faithful adaptation of it?’
“Then, when I read it I was so moved because the story is deeply emotional, very cathartic, very powerful and it held onto the elements of the original 1977 film that I cared about.
“(The original) was one of those movies growing up that we had on VHS and would watch again and again and again.
“When I told my little sister I was going to be doing Pete’s Dragon she burst into tears because it was a big part of our childhood.”
Howard is a child of Hollywood, the daughter of Happy Days star and Oscar-winning director Ron Howard.
“When I was growing up, I would meet folks who were quite recognizable but I didn’t spend a ton of time with actors,” she says.
That made her first meeting with legendary co-star Robert Redford all the more powerful.
“I was riding on the back of Elliott — just a regular day on set,” she says with a laugh.
“I was meant to dismount the dragon and see my father, Robert Redford, and across a great distance we run toward one another and we embrace. I hadn’t met Bob yet.
“I knew the action of the scene but without rehearsing it, we went into it. I got really excited and I started picking up speed and I have a very strong body, a dense body, I’m big-boned, and I was running faster and faster and when we finally hugged I’m shocked I didn’t knock him down.
“He’s a very sturdy person as well but it was a very intense collision. When (director) David (Lowery) yelled ‘Cut!’ Bob tuned to me and said, ‘You came at me like a cannonball.’ I couldn’t have planned anything more embarrassing.”
“I get star-struck very easily,” she says while admitting Redford’s talent and accomplishments wowed her.
“When people sometimes ask, ‘Who do you most look up to? Who do you want to be like?’, the answer to that question is probably my dad, but Robert Redford is a close second. That’s why it was so trippy to have him be my dad.”