Bryce Dallas Howard's role gave daughter nightmares

Bryce Dallas Howard says she is grateful to be in Jurassic World, where she plays a woman in a leadership position, who is flawed but courageous. -- PHOTO: UIP SINGAPORE
Bryce Dallas Howard says she is grateful to be in Jurassic World, where she plays a woman in a leadership position, who is flawed but courageous. -- PHOTO: UIP SINGAPORE

Returning to work after giving birth is a tough thing to do for a mother.

And it might not get any easier even if you are an actress with a recognisable last name with a varied body of work you have built up over the years.

Speaking to media at Park Hyatt Beijing on May 26, Bryce Dallas Howard, 34, says: "I had thought I was going to need to crawl my way back into the business and be like 'Hi, remember me? I was here a few years ago.'"

Her father is famed director Ron Howard and she has acted in films such as psychological thriller The Village (2004), superhero flick Spider-Man 3 (2007) and, most recently, period drama The Help (2011).

She is married to actor Seth Gabel and they have two young children.

Thanks to writer-director Colin Trevorrow's "leap of faith" though, Howard plunges back into showbusiness with nothing less than the hotly anticipated dinosaur thriller Jurassic World. The film opens in Singapore tomorrow.

She plays uptight theme park operations manager Claire and, over the course of the movie, the character grows as she gets thrust into one heart-racing, life-threatening crisis after another.

But even if her acting return was smoother than expected, Howard ended up feeling guilty.

Her daughter was 21/2 when she visited the set and believed her mother when Howard said that she worked with a dinosaur.

"For weeks, every single night before bed, she would say 'Dinosaur's gonna come into my bedroom'. She has had a few nightmares and I just felt horrible."

Motherhood is challenging for everyone and this was a lesson that Howard learnt after she had her son in 2007.

She has previously spoken of her post-partum depression and she adds: "It took a long time for me to get my sea legs as a parent and as a working parent."

She decided not to rush back into movies after her daughter was born in 2012 and says: "Two kids are not double the work, they're a gajillion times the work and responsibility."

Between The Help and Jurassic World, she directed some short pieces and took the time to "get back to myself".

With her flaming red hair and simple yet elegant cobalt blue dress, Howard cuts a striking figure. She might still be figuring out the ropes when it comes to parenting but she is definitely someone comfortable in her own skin and confident in airing her views.

When the trailer for Jurassic World was first shown, writer-director Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, 1997-2003) criticised it for its "1970s era sexist" vibe over Twitter.

He posted: "She's a stiff, he's a life-force - really? Still?"

She says calmly: "When trailers come out, there's no context and absolutely everyone is entitled to his opinion. He's been a champion for women in films and stories, he's awesome."

But she points out that he later apologised and she adds: "I'm so grateful to be in a movie where I am a woman in a leadership position. She's complex and she's flawed. She's icy and wrong-headed but she's also deeply courageous and powerful and is capable of saving the day."

While Jurassic World might seem like your average brainless popcorn flick, Howard sees more to it. She references the term thintelligence, which was coined by Michael Crichton, author of the Jurassic Park novel.

"We are interested and invested in the next advancement of technology and science and what these stories offer us is an opportunity to step back and look at the bigger picture before it actually happens.

"That was Crichton's intention, to highlight the human desire for progress and also the hubris that comes with that. And that is what the greatest science fiction stories have given to us."

That same thoughtfulness that she brings to answering questions can also be seen in the way she chooses her roles.

She says: "I'm really film-maker driven, maybe there's something Freudian there, my father's a director. I have seen scripts that are not quite there yet, be elevated by a film-maker to a degree where it's brilliant.

"And I've read a script and seen the movie and realised that wasn't the right chemistry. If a movie is good, it's really the director who should get all the credit."

So would her father have been a good fit for Jurassic World?

While she says that he was never approached to do a Jurassic Park sequel, as far as she knows, she adds loyally: "I'm his daughter so I'm biased, he can totally direct anything."

Boon Chan