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The Village - Bryce Dallas Howard Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Bryce, given your background, people might suppose that this is something you were born to do – is that not quite how it turned out? Have you come round a circuitous route to starring in a big Box Office film?
A:
You want me to talk about that? OK. So, you know, my dad’s a filmmaker and my mom is a writer, and so it seemed fairly reasonable to assume, as a child of those two, that I would somehow participate in this industry, at least in a business or a livelihood that depended upon the imagination.
My form of rebellion was to say ‘no’ and try anthropology or law. Actually, I really gave it a good shot because I was frustrated with all the assumptions.
My imagination has always been so much stronger to me than my real life and, you know, that was a clear indication to most onlookers that a life in the arts, or a life as an actor, would be appropriate. But I actually only admitted it to myself when I was 17 or 18-years-old, when I was nearly in adulthood.
And even then, I sort of made a little loophole for myself – if I got into one school I’d try to be an actor, but it was the one school that also had liberal arts education attached to it, so I could double major. But, yes, now I’m an actor.

Q. Can you reveal a little bit about the secrecy surrounding the project. Is it true that you were Fed-Ex’ing script pages back after you had read them, etc...
A:
It’s sort of funny that there is so much secrecy on a project like this because it’s never come from Night. He’s never said this is so precious, please keep it secret. It comes more from me and other people who’d read the script, who’d read it for the first time.
We wanted other people to experience the story as we’d experienced it – freshly. It’s so unfortunate – scripts are released on the internet quite often and it’s reviewed. To me, that’s like if an artist has a blank canvas and a bunch of pots of paint, and someone comes along and says ‘I don’t like those colours’ – you haven’t seen the painting for goodness’ sake.
So, I’m glad that there’s this amount of secrecy, so people can form their own opinions of this art form that’s become so popular. There was a bunch of Fed-Ex’ing of pages back and forth, but that’s just because Fed-Ex is very efficient.
But Night, when he offered me this role, he said don’t give it to the internet, but he never said don’t give it your parents, or your agent ,or your managers. When I read it, I didn’t want to ruin it for my family and for my friends.

Q. Bryce, this is your first feature film. Did you need any reassurance to get you through shooting?
NIGHT:
Heavy drug use.
BRYCE: Yeah, there was a lot of heroin. She jokes! No, I wasn’t afraid because I don’t operate from a place of fear, because that’s destructive and it would waste time. I got this role in May, and we started filming in October – I had a limited amount of time to prepare for this role.
If I spent any amount of time being insecure, or doubting my ability, or being nervous, then that would have been disgraceful, especially with the opportunity that I was given, and this tremendous role that I was going to be allowed to play.
I just felt very excited. Also, Night had this insane amount of faith in me – he cast me without auditioning me just after watching me in a small play, in New York. It was my responsibility to have at least an ounce of that amount of faith in myself.

Q. This small play was one of Bill Shakespeare’s small plays, wasn’t it?
A
It was a small theatre house. It was As You Like It.

Q. What’s next for you?
A:
I just finished Lars Von Trier’s movie – the second in his trilogy. The first was Dogville and this one’s called Manderlay.
As for what I’ll do next, I don’t know. Honestly, in many ways, I feel like I’m doomed because I had this experience with Night, and then to follow that with a really quite extraordinary experience, with Lars... I don’t know what I’m going to do.
I’m screwed. I’m nervous about it – I think about it every day because... the film making experience is very satisfying and it can be with a lot of different film-makers. I’m an actor – I like to play roles. But to work with a director who is an angel, it’ll be hard to equal that.

Q. Bryce, how did you get into playing a blind girl? Was there a lot of research?
A:
Yeah. It was the first thing... actually, blindness constitutes a very small part of Ivy, but it was the thing that was most distant from reality.
I went to a place called the Lighthouse, in New York City – it’s an institution where they aid people who are visually impaired.
The head of one department in the Lighthouse came up to me and said ‘I hope you enjoy your time here’, and then she walked away and she was holding a cane in her hand. I hadn’t realised during our dialogue that she was blind. I’d never seen that in a film before, so I thought that was something that was very important – how do you play blindness when you’re existing in an environment where there’s no longer a handicap, where there’s no longer a disability, as in the case of Ivy Walker, in The Village?
Then the instructors took me through the entire script and told me how this girl would do what she does in this film. They said it was all possible and she could, in fact, do even more. Then I had to spend a large majority of every day blindfolded, because after 90 minutes of wearing a blindfold, your brain starts rewiring itself, so that was my rule – no less than 90 minutes.
There were a lot of things that went into it – watching other performances, seeing what spoke to me, what moved me and what didn’t. It was very, very important to me that I did justice to that element of Ivy, because if the audience didn’t believe it – if she was stumbling around too much – it would have been a big problem.

Q. Have you received much advice from your father?
A:
It’s unfortunate, because the small amount of advice my father was giving me about this profession, i didn’t take seriously when I should’ve. So now he’s stopped giving me advice and I’ve tried explaining that he talked to me when I was seven – I was an idiot.
The one thing I’ve learnt more from example, is that we can have very long careers, and it can extend until the day we die, and so there will be moments when you feel like you’re experiencing failure, or disappointment, or perhaps, even worse, that you’re disappointed in yourself.
What I’ve learned from my dad is that it doesn’t mean you should stop – you should try even harder, push it even further and, perhaps because of failure, you’re getting even closer to the ultimate goal. It terrifies me, the position I’m in now, but that’s a very good thing. That’s what I’ve learned from him.

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