Bryce Dallas Howard Talks Pete's Dragon, Fulfilling Childhood Dreams, and Robert Redford

Photos courtesy of Disney Studios
Pete's Dragon. Premiering this Friday, August 12th, Pete's Dragon is a remake of a classic 1977 Disney film. Shot entirely in New Zealand, this feel-good is set to be the family hit of the summer. With it's outstanding animation, captivating story, and message of the importance of believing the impossible, this film will put you and yours under its spell, or at the very least make for a feel-good afternoon as a family. 
This heart-warming story would not be possible without a well-rounded cast, which ranges from newcomer child actor Oakes Fegley (who plays titular character Pete) to veterans Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard. We were invited by Disney Studios to an early screening and a round table at the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach with Howard. Following is what she told us:

You were a fan of the original Pete's Dragon; what do you think of this reinterpretation and what did you bring to the table?

BDH: This is very, very different from the original other than the central themes and central characters. The thing that excited me most about the original film was that it was a live-action film with an animated character, so it was a real boy with a dragon. I was born in '81 and that movie came out in '77, so I was watching it when I was fairly young, and I just remember being like “Oh my God! It’s a boy talking to a dragon!” I hope that that’s something my kids get to experience with this film. I know so far they’re definitely very, very excited to see it.

I felt the core message of the movie was “believing is seeing.” Do you think that's the main takeaway?

BDH: There’s a power in that original film, and I hope in this one, which is that there’s the magic of the movies. I felt this way with the original Jurassic Park: you’re seeing this thing that you cannot believe your eyes and that’s what you, when you’re telling a visual story, want to make possible for an audience member. I don’t know if the core message is “believe in dragons,” per se, but I think there is something thematically resonant there, which is that if you’re open to the impossible, you just might encounter it and it might transform your life.

The first time I saw you on the big screen, you were in the role of a "gritty" vampire. Is it easier or harder to play a mythical creature or a mortal interacting with it?

BDH: I don’t know if it’s easier or harder, but I’ll tell you how it’s similar. For any character, you need to make decisions about who they are, what their viewpoints are, what their objectives are. With people and mythological creatures, the human experience is different for all of us –the mythological experience is different for all mythological creatures, I’m just going to assume that (Laugh).

You sort of need to make decisions that provide context; in my case (for Pete's Dragon), talking to a park ranger, so you can get a feel of what their job is like. For a vampire, you kind of want an understanding of what the relationship is between an audience and the storyteller with these vampire stories, because there are different kinds of vampires. The Twilight vampire sparkles, and can go out during the day; that’s a different thing we haven’t encountered in terms of that. You want to, with any kind of creature or human being, have an understanding of what’s the same or different with this person or creature.

Did you feel like Daenerys Targaryen (from Game of Thrones) in the scene where your character rides Elliot?

BDH: I think no! (Laugh) In, like, flannels and work boots and my park ranger hat, I don’t think I could feel more different!

Going from fantasy to reality, what was it like to work with Robert Redford?Was this a big moment for you?

BDH: I think even the way you ask the question is insightful, because I haven’t been able to speak to how amazing that experience was because it is sort of this idea of fantasy and reality. He is someone who is so legendary and so iconic, and not just as an actor, but as a filmmaker, as a producer, as an entertainment entrepreneur. He is someone who is unto himself, this epic human being.  You’re confronted with the reality of this lovely, cool guy who you like working with and has wonderful stories, and then you go back into this part of your mind which is the fantasy of “IT’S ROBERT REDFORD!” This movie is about a magical creature, and Robert Redford was that magical creature, but then there’s the reality of him, like I said, being this really awesome guy named Bob. It’s one of the first times where I’ve really had to wrap my mind around it, because he’s someone that I’ve looked up to my entire life, so I was constantly telling myself “just be cool, just be normal.”

You totally held your own!

BDH: (Laugh) Oh man, thank you! He’s incredible.

Watch the official U.S. trailer below, and don't miss Pete's Dragon, in theaters Friday.

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