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Lady In The Water - Bryce Dallas Howard interview

Bryce Dallas Howard in The Lady in the Water

Interview by Rob Carnevale

BRYCE Dallas Howard talks about M Night Shyamalan’s Lady in The Water and why it was initially very hard to find the right performance as fairytale narf, Story…

Q. How did you react to the script at first and come to get involved?
A. Well, for me, Night put me in a very painful situation because he offered me this part eight months before it was even written. So I had to wait, which was somewhat treachorous. It was the day that I saw The Village for the first time, so he set up this very dramatic scenario which was very moving at the time.
But when it finally arrived I was so struck by it because it reminds me in many ways of the great films that I saw when I was a child that weren’t literal. They challenged childrens’ and adults’ imaginations and they were almost like allegories for what could be possible. It wasn’t about “this is true/this is not true”, “this could actually happen/this could never happen”. It meant something bigger than that. It was so poignant for me to read because it really brought me back to that more innocent time in my life – and I think a more innocent time in my generation as a whole.

Q. What was it like to work alongside your director? Did it change the dynamic of your performance?
A. It was interesting because for me he approaches his acting craft in the same way he approaches his directing and his writing. It comes from that same well. It’s not like Night the director, or Night the writer was completely different from Night the actor. So it just felt like it was a wonderful collaboration with a co-artist. More than anything, I’m incredibly impressed with that concentration and that focus that doing both requires. What I’ve noticed in the two films that I’ve done with him is that he pushes himself or forces himself into an uncomfortable place, or a place where he knows that he’ll be inherently challenged with a million different obstacles. So he’ll have to make decisions that will force him to grow as an artist. This is yet again another way that you challenge your artistry and I think he’s succeeded brilliantly. It was a pleasure to be a part of that and to witness it.

Q. In many ways the secret to your performance is that everyone is reacting to you. You have to be the myserious character. How difficult is that as an actress to perform?
A. That was really difficult, especially at first. I came into the process wanting someone’s approval, which is always the worst way to approach anything in life. I remember thinking that I wanted to create something so good for Night. But very quickly I learned that this was a very unusual story and I had to go to the source of it in order to begin to understand how I was going to be a part of its creation. It was only about a week before shooting that that realisation came upon me.

So this became a very freeing process for me because truly what it involved was me showing up and trying to be available to Night and his production. The moment I let myself go to that was the moment she was discovered. When I was trying to muscle it and create some character, it was totally artificial. Night was very nice about it and so it became a very powerful experience for me – to go so wrong in the beginning and then be guided to something that felt so right. Ultimately, that was so very simple because it was just listening to someone tell a story through me. It’s also very cool to watch it now because now I understand.

Read the review

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