Bryce’s children, Theo, 8 and Beatrice, 3, with her husband, actor Seth Gabel, are already displaying a few family traits.
“Theo seems to have inherited [my dad’s] complexly imaginative and artistic mind, and Beatrice is gregarious and a natural leader (at 3 years old!), just like him,” she says.
Last Christmas, “I walked in on him showing Theo episodes of The Andy Griffith Show on YouTube, saying, ‘This was me when I was your age,’ ” Bryce, 34, recalls. “Oh, my goodness, my heart could barely take it.”
The actress says her kids “worship” their grandparents — her mom, Cheryl, and dad are high school sweethearts — and especially look forward to fun sleepovers at their house when they’re in town.
“He’s the sweetest granddad, and I love that both of my children have a unique and special relationship with him,” Dallas Howard says. “I have my own precious memories of myself as a child with him, and to see my children playing with him and doing things with my dad that I did as a kid makes me so happy!”
The only thing that might top that? The chance to have her father direct her in a project. “My greatest dream is to work with my dad someday as an actress,” she adds. “I don’t know how many roles I can ask my dad to play in my life, but so far, father, best friend, role model, mentor and grandfather to my children are working out quite well.”
For more of Bryce Dallas Howard’s interview — in which she shares memories from her childhood and how it shaped her as a mom — pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
— Julie Jordan