Hereafter - Bryce Dallas Howard
Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) © 2010 Warner Bros

Daughter of famed actor and director, Ron Howard, Bryce Dallas Howard has carved out a very successful movie career of her own. In just the last few years she has appeared in The Twilight Sage: Eclipse, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, Terminatior: Salvation, Spider-Man 3 and Lady in the Water.

In her new movie Hereafter, directed by Clint Eastwood, she portrays Melanie, a young girl in San Francisco who meets George Lonegan (Matt Damon) at a cooking class – both are trying to start new lives, but both have secrets that doom their relationship.

Is it a no-brainer when Clint Eastwood gives you a call to ask if you want to be in his movie?

Hereafter - Bryce Dallas Howard and Matt Damon
Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) and George Lonegan (Matt Damon) © 2010 Warner Bros

I actually lobbied for this film. I read the script and I auditioned for it with his casting director and didn’t hear about it for awhile. Then I did hear that I was cast in it.

I didn’t meet Clint until my first day of shooting. I literally went to hair and makeup, got all ready, and came to set and was just moments away from shooting, and he was just like, ‘Hi, it’s great to meet you.’ I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ it was kind of crazy.

What is it about Clint Eastwood that makes him such a great director?

He has so much experience and he’s such a humble person, so he’s really been able to apply his experience without any ego that just truly services each story. And he does that again and again and again, and in so many different genres and so many different types of characters in so many different languages, like with this film. He’s probably the best in the world. There is no one else who has had a career like his.

Can you tell us a little about Melanie?

Melanie has just movie to San Francisco because she just got dumped by someone, so she’s also trying to start over. When she gets paired up with George at this cooking class, he seems perfect for her. She’s a little bit nervous and he’s a little bit shy, they have a nice, genuine rapport. But as they get to know each other, it becomes clear that George has his secret, and Melanie has secrets of her own.

I loved the scene in the cooking class where you and Matt are blindfolded, tasting different foods and guessing what they were.

I liked that scene so much, because it’s in that scene where they reveal the truths of their life to one another. But they’re doing so blindfolded, so it’s the only thing that gives them the courage to do that so early in a relationship. It was a flirtation; I really shouldn’t call it a relationship at that point. It was a very truthful scene in that way, I could see that definitely happening.

How did you like working with Matt Damon?

Hereafter - Bryce Dallas Howard and Matt  Damon
Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) and George Lonegan (Matt Damon) © 2010 Warner Bros

He’s great, he’s so lovely and he’s really talented, that’s a total understatement. The thing that I was struck by when I was working with him is how truthful he is, and then afterwards I was like, ‘Dah,’ every performance that he gives, you believe him no matter what the circumstances. And just in working with him I experienced that, you can’t not believe what he’s saying.

He’s looking in your eyes and he’s right there and, believe it or not, that’s not a normal kind of thing. That’s something as an actor you strive for, but that’s a very difficult thing to achieve, and he certainly has mastered it.

Did the script make you think about what’s important in life?

Yeah, I think that’s one of the values of a film like this. It does ask a really big question, what is the hereafter? Is there an afterlife? It doesn’t necessarily say that it’s anything specific, but for me in reading the script initially, you begin to think about your own experience of life and what you might believe.

Have you ever had a psychic experience?

I have a few family members that are really intuitive and a couple that are actually downright psychic, which is wild, and it’s on both sides of my family. We’re a pretty conventional family so it’s a weird thing that that’s happened.

For that reason it’s not something that I’m afraid of, because I also believe that it’s your actions that determine your future more than anything, so there’s not necessarily a fixed destiny that you have.

I think there are a lot of charlatans out there as well, so you have to be careful. If there is something that’s scary and you’re nervous about your future, and God forbid you meet with someone that doesn’t possess any kind of ability, that could totally be misguiding.

Can you talk a little about your movie The Help, which comes out next year? Did you read the novel?

I read the script first and did the audition, and then got the part and afterwards I read the book. That was kind of crazy because I knew from the script what the story was, but when I read the book I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Hilly Holbrook is so terrible!’ That’s the character I’m playing. It was fun; I had a great time doing it.

Being in Twilight Saga: Eclipse, what was that fan frenzy like?

Because I was just involved in that third film I was almost an observer and it’s really wild. There’s certainly a mania around it. I loved the books and I loved the movies, so when I met everyone for the first time I was kind of (in awe). But it’s wonderful to experience all of that passion. All of us getting together was kind of crazy.

It’s great when those franchises come out, because you celebrate the power of that medium and how it can reach out to so many different people.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.