Bryce Dallas Howard on Dinosaurs and How She Gained 35 Pounds for ‘Black Mirror’

Bryce Dallas Howard
Bryce Dallas HowardDimitrios Kambouris / Staff / Getty Images

Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom star, sounds off on her lifelong love of scaly creatures, growing up with a famous father, and what it’s like to put on 35 pounds for a TV gig.

Your recent projects include Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Pete’s Dragon. What’s the deal with you and reptiles?

Hah. I shot Pete’s between the two Jurassics. Basically, if you’re scaly and it’s unclear whether you’re naughty or nice, I’m totally into working with you.

Do you remember what it was like watching the original Jurassic Park?

My parents didn’t let us watch TV, but we watched movies all the time. I was 12, and my parents weren’t sure whether it was OK for me to see it. They went opening night, and I distinctly remember they came home and my dad [actor-director Ron Howard] was like, “This is cinema history. You have to see this in the theater.” I went the next day. Boy, am I grateful he said that. The first time I saw the CGI dinosaur, it blew my mind. I burst into tears. I just felt overwhelmed.

Did it make you want to get into acting?

Our house was, like, all movies all the time. But at that point in my life, I wasn’t thinking at all about being an actor or really about any job yet. I just loved being around movies. I’m a film nerd, and it was totally a father-and-daughter thing for me and my dad to get really wrapped up in these geeky but specific movie things. At the time, I knew what a huge leap Jurassic Park was for our industry, and for storytelling, and for what was possible. It was a groundbreaking moment.

Your son is around that same age. Has he seen you in Jurassic World?

When the first one came out, he was like, “Mom, all of my friends have seen it,” but I didn’t feel it was quite the right time for him yet. When we were shooting the second one in Hawaii, we sat down next to each other and watched the first one.

Was he as moved as you were when you saw your first CGI dinosaur?

Well, he’s a man of few words, so when I asked, “What did you think?” he just said, “Good.” As far as I’m concerned, that’s an amazing review.

Growing up, did you watch a lot of movies with your dad?

Yeah, I went to his film sets when he was directing, and we would watch all of his favorite films again, again, and again. I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at least 15 times; same with The Graduate. Later I got really into Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves. It’s almost pornographic, and I was like, “This is weird. Is this my sexual awakening?” I watched all my favorites like 20 times.

It sounds like your dad made an effort to keep you away from the spotlight and maybe acting.

I grew up in Connecticut. None of us had social media or phones or the internet or anything. I wasn’t exposed to Hollywood premieres and awards shows and all of that. Instead, I got to be a regular kid. I was just super into karate. I forget about it, and then I’ll be training for something physical in a role, and they’ll be like, “Can you throw a punch?” and I do it, and they’re like, “Whoa.” It was all those tournaments, all those hours spent breaking boards. 

You gained 35 pounds for your role on Black Mirror. How’d you do that?

I ate around the clock. First thing in the morning, last thing before I closed my eyes. I’d have food by my bed. I’d get up in the middle of the night and have a chocolate bar.

Was it hard to lose the extra weight?

I trained a lot, used the rower, did CrossFit—the workouts definitely got really intense. But it was fun. I’m like a dog—you have to walk me. I have to go out for my run or I’ll chew up the furniture.

It seems male actors gain weight for roles more often than female actors do.

Well, how many movies are raising their hand to say, “The lady who’s on the magazine cover who looks like that—we want that but more”? I wish that were the case. But it’s changing now, and we’re aware of it, and it’s getting talked about. That’s a good thing.

A lot of people gain weight from alcohol, but I read that you don’t drink.

I actually waited until I was 21, since it was illegal. But by then, I had seen a bunch of people puke their brains out at parties, and I was like, “That’s not a good look. It’s not for me.”

No wine, huh? How do you unwind?

In terms of relaxing, I wouldn’t say I always do a great job of that. But my favorite thing is when the kids are asleep and I crawl into bed and I just spread out books, like 12 books, and journals all over my bed. That just gives me so much relaxation.

Interesting. Even your relaxation is multitasking.

I’m sooo chill.

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