From dinosaurs to dragons
Jurassic World star Dallas Howard had 'crazy' parenthood experience shooting Pete's Dragon
Disney's latest offering is the remake of its 1977 movie musical Pete's Dragon, about a little boy who is brought up by a dragon.
In the new live action animation version, keeping that basic premise, the story is set in the present day and completely changed.
US actress Bryce Dallas Howard plays Grace, a forest ranger whose father (Robert Redford) amuses local children with stories of a fierce dragon who lives in the woods. She discounts these tales until she meets a little boy called Pete (Oakes Fegley) who claims to live in the woods with a dragon who seems remarkably similar to the one in her father's tales.
The fantasy adventure opens here tomorrow,
Howard, the daughter of Oscar-winning Hollywood director Ron Howard, has always forged her own path, even dropping the family name when she was in drama school.
After making a name for herself in movies like The Village, Lady In The Water and The Help, she finally broke into the mainstream last year as the female lead opposite Chris Pratt in Jurassic World.
The 35-year-old mum of a nine-year-old boy and four-year-old girl - whom she's read the book version of the 1977 Pete's Dragon to and will watch her movie when it's released - is an upbeat, cheerful presence when we meet at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills to discuss how she's going from dinosaurs to dragons (and back to dinos)...
Did you ever see the original movie?
The 1977 film was one of a handful of movies that we watched over and over and over again as kids. It was one of the first times that I had seen a live action film with an animated character. There was a little boy and a dragon on the same screen so it must be real. When I got this role, I called one of my little sisters and I told her that I was going to be in Pete's Dragon and she started crying...
I was totally Disney-obsessed as a kid. My grandmother would bring me every single year to Disneyland and we would stay for three days and we would do one ride per day.
OBSESSED: Bryce Dallas Howard watched the original 1977 Pete's Dragon 'over and over' and now stars alongside Robert Redford (above, on right) in the 2016 remake. PHOTO: WALT DISNEY PICTURES
Tell us about shooting Pete's Dragon in New Zealand.
One of the most beautiful places on the planet. I had been there 30 years previously with my family when my dad was shooting (the 1988 fantasy film) Willow there. So it was this crazy experience to be shooting in the same country 30 years later with my own young family. The moment I got there, that sense of wonder and awe and innocence definitely kicked in. Everyone brought their children. (Co-stars) Wes Bentley brought his family and Karl Urban's family is obviously from New Zealand and it was this kind of idyllic experience. With all these kids on set, just that experience alone naturally lent itself to just feeling kind of free.
What was it like to work with Robert Redford?
There was a lot of excitement before he came to New Zealand. He's very warm and unassuming and gentle. He's this great storyteller and a very relaxed guy and he has immense curiosity... There were lots of scenes that we had in cars together and I kept thinking to myself, I just want to lock the door and keep this man in this car with me because he was so open and gave great advice about raising kids in the business and his kind of experience of just how much the industry has changed.
What was it like growing up with such a busy dad?
Because my parents brought us everywhere with them, I always have the memories of my dad always being there. We would have tutors or we would go to a local school. I don't remember my dad ever missing anything with one exception which I was fine with. I had got into basketball when I was young and was captain of the varsity basketball team, and my dad was shooting something at the time and he didn't make it to the basketball games and he said it's his biggest regret in life. I am like, 'Dude, you're off the hook. It's fine'. I think because his parents were just so engaged as parents and really wonderful, my dad has really high expectations for himself as a parent, sometimes almost too high.
Are you going to be in the next Jurassic Park sequel?
Yes. We've been e-mailing and texting. We're shooting it next year. It's so funny because it's like I shot Jurassic World and then went straight into shooting Pete's Dragon. On set all the time I would mix up dragons and dinosaurs. I'd just be like, where's the dinosaur, I mean, dragon. And then I went straight from Pete's Dragon shooting into Jurassic World press and so then I was like again mixing it up. It's probably my decade of reptiles, what this is going to be.