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Bryce Dallas Howard Discovers Pete’s Dragon

Aug 08, 2016

By: Lynn Barker

In Pete’s Dragon, a re-imagining of the partially animated 1977 Disney film, Jurassic World actress Bryce Dallas Howard plays Pacific Northwest forest ranger Grace Meacham who finds a young boy named Pete (Oakes Fegley) who has been living in the woods for six years with a mysterious dragon named Elliott. Is the dragon an imaginary friend or real? With help from her wood-carver dad (Robert Redford) and Natalie (Oona Laurence), the young daughter of a local lumber mill owner, Grace investigates Pete’s identity and the truth about Elliott. Will a local hunter capture Elliott before Grace can help him and Pete?

Grace (Bryce) in her forest ranger outfitGrace (Bryce) in her forest ranger outfitCourtesy of Disney

Check out what Bryce has to say about this fun fantasy adventure film.

Q: You have just seen the film?  What did you think?

  • Bryce: I just love it. Especially having one of the main characters be an animated character essentially, that’s what’s most exciting for me to see Elliot come alive and be everything that we wanted him to be.

Pete with his fuzzy dragonPete with his fuzzy dragonCourtesy of Disney

Q: Did acting in a film like Jurassic World where you are working with a lot of animals that aren’t really there, prepare you for Pete’s Dragon?

  • Bryce: Yes. It is pretty typical to assume that there’s going to be some kind of visual effects in a film these days and once you (work with) that a little bit, you get what you need to do to prepare and what you need to imagine so certainly with “Jurassic” that was really heavy animal effects.

Bryce as Claire in Jurassic WorldBryce as Claire in Jurassic WorldCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: What made you decide this was the right film for you?

  • Bryce: It was an immediate yes for me, no joke. For quite a while, prior to reading the script, I had heard that it was not a straight-up remake and that was a yes for me because I love Pete’s Dragon (the original 1977 film). I have the little board book for my kids and read it to them constantly and I think, in loving it, I didn’t want it to just be a copycat movie. I see a lot of those and some are great, some don’t work but I felt like the story, the themes within the original film, were the charm of that movie.
  • I think what centered that movie and made that film last was the central idea of friendship with an imaginary friend when you have no family and then voila, it’s not such an imaginary friend. So when I heard that it wasn’t a straight-up remake I was like “Yes, I would love to be a part of that” and also because, I can’t help it, I’m a parent and I want there to be beautiful films out there that are timeless and have really beautiful values so yeah, I’m super proud to be part of this.

Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) wonders if Elliott is realGrace (Bryce Dallas Howard) wonders if Elliott is realCourtesy of Disney

Q: How was working with young Oakes Fegley who plays Pete and Oona Laurence, playing Natalie?

  • Bryce: Wonderful and there were often times where I would ask Oakes for direction. Like I would say “What do you think?” He’d really know what to say. He reminded me of my dad (director Ron Howard) in a lot of ways. He’s a self-aware person but he’s not aware of the extent of his talent and he’s just really relaxed about it and has a sense of everything. He really understands a movie set. That’s a great thing to get a kid who is not self-conscious, who has that talent, who is game, has a sturdiness, has a deep sensitivity and intuitiveness. It’s beautiful to act opposite. I personally think, if chooses to, he’s going to be a great director.
  • Then there was young Oona. Me and Bob (Redford) and our director we were always just looking at each other after she did anything. She did everything perfectly always. Her eyes are amazing. It was one of those things where she’s not actressy like Oakes is not actory, the things that get built after a lifetime of being asked “Do you want any water?” or “Do you need anything?” “Do you need a shuttle or chauffeur to work today”?) those kinds of things that can really ruin a person, it hasn’t occurred. They haven’t absorbed it. Maybe it’s just how they are but we had a chance to work with these amazing human beings at this amazing time in their lives.  

Grace asks Pete if his dragon is realGrace asks Pete if his dragon is realCourtesy of Disney

Q: I love movies where kids are the protagonists (lead actors) like E.T. Can you talk about that?

  • Bryce: Yeah. The reason I love my children to watch films with children in them is because it empowers them to have an understanding. It enforces their own story and their own belief system and their own emotional values I think. They learn to value their feelings. When you see a child and we’re watching movies or theater or entertainment in any form, we’re leaning toward the truth.
  • I think when you see a child on the screen or in real life and they call you some vicious name, you believe it more because a child speaks the truth. So, being in a film like this one where the protagonist is a child, it just means everything around it needs to be more honest, all the more real and it’s all the more important because you know that other children are going to watch it and it’s going to have a significant impact on them.

Pete introduces Natalie to dragon ElliottPete introduces Natalie to dragon ElliottCourtesy of Disney

Q: How was working with famous, classic actor/director Robert Redford? Was it daunting to work with him?

  • Bryce: He’s awesome. He is disarmingly relaxed and cool and game for things. I think all of us before meeting him were like “Aaaa Redford’s going to be here” and we did a large part of the shoot in advance of that and he came and basically twenty-four hours later I like “Aw, he’s cool”. He’s really fun to work with. He walks miles every day. There was a horse on the side of the road that he rescued. It was the second day of shooting. Now the horse is going to be taken care of for the rest of its life. It was in an abusive situation.

Grace (Bryce) and dad (Robert Redford) have a loving relationshipGrace (Bryce) and dad (Robert Redford) have a loving relationshipCourtesy of Disney

Q: That’s so cool!  How excited are your kids for this film?

  • Bryce: They’re very excited. There was a little bit of trepidation as to whether or not is was a scary dragon or a friendly dragon. It is indeed a friendly dragon. They’re so excited and I used the trailers coming out as like bait “The trailer is coming out and you’ll be allowed to see it. You’d better (be good”). 

Pete's Dragon PosterPete's Dragon PosterCourtesy of Disney

See Pete’s Dragon in theaters now!


Have Your Say

Have you seen the original Pete’s Dragon film on DVD?  Do you think this one will be fun and cool? Do you remember Bryce from Jurassic World?  Tell us below.