The Pete's Dragon star talks to PEOPLE about growing up with her famous father, and her amazing career
Bryce Dallas Howard, thinks that her childhood away from Hollywood set her up to be a star in her own right. “As kids, my siblings and I never knew our dad’s level of success,” Howard, 35, tells PEOPLE, in this week’s issue.
With major blockbusters like Jurassic World under her belt and Pete’s Dragon out this week, Howard looks back on some memorable moments with her dad, director Ron Howard.
“A lot of folks have asked me, ‘Was your dad not around?’ ” she says. “It was the opposite. We traveled with him and my mom everywhere. He’d be directing with all four redheaded kids hanging on him.”
Howard was born in California, but moved to Connecticut when she was “about 4.” “We’ve always been really close,” Howard says of her dad. “I came out kind of like a carbon copy of him.”
“My dad’s birthday is March 1st and my birthday is March 2nd,” she says. “We’ve always celebrated together.” This specific party, in the photo below, took place during the filming of Parenthood when Bryce turned 7, which was the age she first got to be an extra (“I mean deep-deep-in-the-back extra,” she says. “No lines or anything”) and had her first “job” on set. “I was in charge of squeezing orange juice for the crew’s breakfast,” she says. “I didn’t quite have the fine motor skills, but I was very focused.”
As Howard got older, she got to be an “intern” on set. “On Apollo 13, I got a walkie-talkie,” she says of the photo below. “That was a really big deal for me because Colin Hanks was a production assistant and he was 16, and I was a few years younger than him.”
Among her responsibilities? “My dad and his editors and producers would sit down to watch the dailies from the previous day’s shoots,” she says. “It was my job to get everyone’s lunch order before a certain time and make sure everything was there and organized.”
She got an invaluable learning experience: “Because of that, I got to always sit in on dailies. It was this incredible opportunity to up close see what decisions were going into making a film, what decisions my dad was making with the people he was collaborating with, what things were working, what things weren’t. And it continued on from there.”
The pink dress Howard is wearing in that picture was a memorable one, since it was made for her by the costume designer on the film, Daniel Orlandi. “I remember this fitting! I felt so grown-up, like, ‘Oh my gosh, costume designer is paying attention to me and dressing me,’ ” she says. Almost exactly 20 years later, “Daniel Orlandi was the costume designer for Jurassic World!” she explains. “It was such a wonderful thing.”
Says Howard of the movie industry, “I don’t want to make it seem like it’s all sunshine and rosy and perfect all the time because that is absolutely not the case. But all in all, the experience that I have had, the majority of the time, is that the people that I’ve worked with have in some shape or form had some kind of first-degree, second-degree, third-degree relationship with someone in my family. So it really does feel like a family.”
And being part of a film family influenced more than just her career – it’s shaped the way she’s raising her two children with husband Seth Gabel: son Theo, 9 and daughter Beatrice, 4.
“I come from three generations of actors,” she says. “But I feel more connected to the three generations of parenting styles… I aspire to raise my kids the way my parents raised me – with classic American values.”