LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After starring opposite giant robots in the action movie “Terminator: Salvation,” Bryce Dallas Howard plays a debutante in 1920s Memphis in the film drama “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond.”
Based on an original Tennessee Williams screenplay, the independent film opens on Friday in major U.S. cities before expanding across the United States January 8.
Howard, daughter of producer/director Ron Howard, sat down to talk to Reuters about her busy year that included not just acting in movies, but also launching a screenwriting and producing career.
Q: How does it feel to originate a Tennessee Williams character?
A: “When I was in drama school, whoever was assigned the Tennessee Williams scene was the luckiest because it was always the juiciest, sexiest and most dangerous scene. So to originate a Tennessee Williams heroine is something that never, ever occurred to me as a possibility.”
Q: You shot it shortly after having a baby with husband Seth Gabel.
A: “Literally two weeks after giving birth, I was working on the part, learning to play the piano. I was worried that it was a huge responsibility and I wouldn’t be able to rise to the occasion. (Director) Jodie Markell was so helpful. She’s a mom as well, and she kept talking me through it. Once we started shooting, I was lucky to have a character to lose myself in. I had to let certain things go, like fixating all day long in how I could be a better parent or how I’m a terrible parent or how I should be doing more as a parent.”
Q: You grew up on your dad’s sets and were always an extra in his movies. How does that affect you today?
A: “I have distinct memories of being on the set and loving it. If I got in trouble, I would get grounded from the set. It was the worst punishment you could give me. It’s actually kind of a problem today because it’s hard to get me to leave when I’m done with my workday. They’re like, ‘Your car is here; time to go home.’ I’m always like, ‘Can’t I just hang around until we wrap?’ I still have associations that I’m getting punished if I have to go home.”
Q: You and your writing partner Dane Charbeneau are writing a screenplay for Universal Pictures and your father Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment. How did that come about?
A: “They brought Dane and I in to consult — not for any money, but because it’s my dad’s company. They wanted advice on a project they were working on. Dane and I wanted to be prepared so we were like, ‘Okay, they want to do a movie about our generation, so what are some of the things we want to see if we were watching a movie about our generation?’ We came up with a story that we decided to use as an example. They said, ‘Would you guys be interested in writing that?’”
Q: You’re also producing a movie with Imagine that’s shooting in Oregon now with Gus Van Sant directing.
A: “It’s a film that Jason Lew, one of my best friends from NYU, wrote. We developed it together for two years. A lot of companies were interested in it, but I was first time producer and they all said, “and then we’ll take it from here.” I had a strong point of view of how the film should be developed and how it should go into production, post-production, marketing, etc. Imagine was also interested. I felt that it was a very safe place to have a voice. And if I was wrong, I would get checked for it and people wouldn’t be afraid to call me out.”
Q: With everything on your plate, you seem to be leading an almost parallel life to your father’s.
A: “We’re very, very similar, but these are genuine interests of mine. I’m not just trying to be like him. I can’t ignore the fact that I have the greatest mentor possible for the things that I’m interested in. I’ve had an amazing chance to have a type of apprenticeship with my father — to learn from him and to work with him. It’s been the most positive, healthy, nurturing and challenging experience of my life.”
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patricia Reaney