Bryce Dallas Howard (born March 2, 1981) is an American film actress and daughter of director Ron Howard. She made her acting debut in her father's 1989 movie Parenthood and went on to have small roles in films and make stage appearances for the next several years. During this time she also attended New York University's (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts, later getting a BFA, and went to drama schools. After gaining the attention of M. Night Shyamalan, he cast her in what would be her breakout film, The Village (2004), and 2006's Lady in the Water, which was a commercial and critical failure. Her performance in As You Like It (2006) earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination in 2008.
Howard became more recognizable to audiences as Gwen Stacy in 2007's Spider-Man 3 and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), playing Victoria, a villainous vampire seeking revenge. Those two projects, as well as the 2009 Terminator Salvation release, are among her most financially successful movies, but all three garnered mixed reviews from the press. She also starred in The Help, alongside Emma Stone and Viola Davis. The film became a critical and box office success.
Howard made her acting debut as an uncredited extra in her father's 1989 comedy-drama feature Parenthood. She was also an extra in her father's critically lauded Apollo 13 (1995) and the 2000 holiday live action Universal Studios production How the Grinch Stole Christmas. While on her dad's film sets, she would often socialize with the crew rather than the actors. For the next several years, Howard appeared in New York plays. Among these were House and Garden, a 2002 Alan Ayckbourn production held at the Manhattan Theatre Club, in which she portrayed a disdainful, flirtatious teen. While performing as Rosalind in the critically acclaimed 2003 William Shakespeare comedy production As You Like It, Howard caught the eye of director M. Night Shyamalan. Howard was not familiar with the play and was cast just one day before it started. She then starred in the Alan Brown-directed 2004 drama Book of Love, about a young woman having an affair with a lonely teenage boy, destroying her marriage. It was generally ignored by critics and movie goers alike.
Her breakthrough role came in Shyamalan's fantasy thriller The Village (2004). When Kirsten Dunst could not commit to the schedule, Howard was cast without having to audition two weeks after Shyamalan first saw her onstage. Its story is about a "turn-of-the-20th-century" village whose residents live in fear of the creatures inhabiting the woods beyond it. She plays the female lead, the chief's blind daughter and love interest to Joaquin Phoenix's part. Her performance was applauded by critics and Howard was nominated for several awards, mostly in the category of "Best Breakthrough Performance". The Village did well commercially, but had a mixed reception. Following that, Howard was cast by Lars Von Trier to replace Nicole Kidman as Grace Mulligan in Manderlay, the 2005 sequel to Dogville (2003). Set in a plantation, the director said that it is "quite clear" his movie can be seen as an allusion to President George W. Bush's efforts to impose democracy in Iraq. Manderlay was a box office bomb, making only $674,000 of its $14.2 million production budget.
Howard reunited with Shyamalan for Lady in the Water, in which she acts as Story, a type of water nymph called a narf. Howard wore minimal clothing for the part. The 2006 fantasy film release also stars Paul Giamatti as the co-lead. Shyamalan's project follows the story of Giamatti's character rescuing what he thinks is a young woman (Howard) from his pool. Once he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to get back home, he teams up with his tenants to protect her from creatures that try to keep her in their world. It underperformed at the box office, falling short of its $75 million budget, and got largely critical reviews. When asked about what message she hoped viewers would get from the film, Howard said "I would say it's very simple - it's that if you have faith, all that is meant to be will happen." Next, she once again played Rosalind in Kenneth Branagh's 2006 film version of Shakespeare's As You Like It. It played in theatres in Europe before going directly to cable in the United States, premiering on HBO. Howard was nominated for a Golden Globe Award at the 2008 ceremony. The project got soundly negative reviews from the British media, while American reviewers gave it more favorable notice. Writing in USA Today, Robert Bianco observed: "As Rosalind, the show's leading lady, Bryce Dallas Howard is a bit uncontrolled, particularly compared with such more precise co-stars as Alfred Molina, David Oyelowo and Brian Blessed. But she's incredibly appealing, and that in itself sells the love story."
In 2007, Howard starred in her first blockbuster, Spider-Man 3, a superhero movie, starring opposite Tobey Macguire and Kirsten Dunst. Adapted from the Marvel Comics and the last film Sam Raimi directed for the series, Howard played Peter Parker's classmate Gwen Stacy, a fan favorite. A challenge that came with playing Gwen was reminding fans of the good-intentioned character who was Peter's first love in the comics, yet came off as "the other woman" in the movie. Howard dyed her naturally red hair blonde for the role and performed many of her own stunts, unaware that she was several months pregnant. Grossing $890 million, it is her most profitable movie and the highest grossing in the trilogy. The same year she wrote and directed a short film, Orchids, as part of Glamour magazine's "Reel Moments" series funded by Cartier and FilmAid International. Terminator Salvation, a high-budgeted 2009 science fiction movie, was her next project. Cast in June 2008, she superseded Charlotte Gainsbourg as Kate Connor. Howard was already a fan of the series. Set in 2018, the film follows a group of survivors led by John Connor struggle to prevent the machines from destroying all humanity. It grossed a total of $370 million, but was not well received, with one critic calling it "a shambolic, deafening, intelligence-insulting mess, a crushing failure on almost all counts." Howard replaced Lindsay Lohan as the lead character in The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (2009). Based on a 1957 screenplay by Tennessee Williams, it did not play at many theaters.
A big career point for Howard was playing the role of Victoria, a vampire seeking revenge, in the Twilight series' third installment The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The film is a romantic vampire film from Summit Entertainment that is based on the book by Stephenie Meyer. She landed the part after Rachelle Lefevre was dropped due to a scheduling conflict in July 2009. Howard had already been a huge fan of the books and considered Victoria to be an "incredible character". Eclipse was directed by David Slade and filming started in August 2009. Released to theaters on June 30, it set a new record for the biggest midnight opening domestically in box office history, making around $30 million in over 4,000 theaters and topped the weekend box office with $64 million in ticket sales. In total, Eclipse made nearly $700 million. Reviews from the media were polarized,but critics did take a liking to Howard in her role.
In December 2009, Howard was cast in Clint Eastwood's Hereafter (2010), as a burgeoning love interest of Matt Damon's character. When Howard first read the script to Hereafter, she was hooked on it, having been attracted to its central character (Damon) – a reclusive man with the ability to speak to the deceased. "It's personal for me because a lot of my family members actually have that ability. It's kind of wild," Howard said. In early January 2011, Howard became the first celebrity ambassador for purse designer Kate Spade. Her first film of 2011 was The Help, a movie adaption of Kathryn Stockett's 2009 best-selling novel of the same name; it also starred Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Jessica Chastain. It focused on African-American servants and their wealthy white employers in Mississippi prior to the civil rights era. Howard has teamed up with her father to help produce Gus Van Sant's Restless, a dark coming of age movie about a teenage boy and girl who are engrossed with death. She had a supporting role opposite Seth Rogen in the cancer dramedy 50/50, which was based on a true story. "It’s viewing that experience through a very truthful lens of humour", she stated of 50/50's take on its heavy subject matter. Both films had September releases. In 2011, she announced that she would be directing a film called The Original. She co-wrote the screenplay with her brother-in-law Dane Charbonneau and described it as "a Breakfast Club for my generation". This would mark her directorial debut.