First there was the third “Spider-Man.” Then it was the fourth “Terminator.” [movieperson id=”329607″]Bryce Dallas Howard[/movieperson] seems to have made a habit of slipping into already-established film franchises. Now the flame-haired actress is headed for a third belated entrance, replacing Rachelle Lefevre as the vampire Victoria in “Eclipse,” the third film in the “Twilight” saga.
While she’s certainly gotten used to diving into treasured cinematic lore, Howard’s career got started in a different direction. She rose to Hollywood prominence at the age of 23 as the star of M. Night Shyamalan’s freaky time-period-bender, “The Village.” Joining the likes of Academy Award winners William Hurt and Adrien Brody, the actress shined, and the film went on to gross over $50 million during its opening weekend.
Reviewing “Village” in 2004, our own Kurt Loder wrote, “[T]he most memorable performance in it is given by Bryce Dallas Howard, a young stage actress whose previous film experience has essentially consisted of bit parts in two movies directed by her father, Ron Howard. Shyamalan saw her in a New York production of Shakespeare’s ’As You Like It,’ and hired her virtually on the spot. It was an inspired choice.”
Howard had become a breakout star, but instead of accepting a big payday for a special effects-driven action flick or a studio-driven rom-com, she hooked up with Danish art-house director Lars von Trier for the controversial slavery pick, “Manderlay.”
“He’s not into creating a very specific message and sending that message out as a solution,” the Howard told MTV News at the time. “He’s into creating problems, and generating conflicts, that will drive people into creating solutions.”
In 2006, Howard worked with another esteemed director, Kenneth Branagh, and garnered a Golden Globe nomination for her turn in the small-screen adaptation of “As You Like It.” That same year, she also reteamed with Shyamalan for “Lady in the Water.”
Finally, three years after her breakout role, Howard appeared in a big-budget franchise flick, “Spider-Man 3,” playing Peter Parker’s love interest, Gwen Stacey. As the actress told us at last year’s Comic-Con, she harbors a deep affection for comic book fandom and considers herself a kindred spirit with the costumed masses.
“I was actually really disappointed when I was here for ’Spider-Man’ that we didn’t have time in the schedule to walk the floor,” she said. “What’s so great about Comic-Con is it’s the fans — it’s people who have spent a significant amount of time invested in admiring the stories, admiring the heroism, the sci-fi aspects of these stories. These are the people I’m doing it for. Because I’m one of them.”
And when she signed on for the Howard franchise reboot “Terminator Salvation,” what’d she tell us? “I love the franchise. I’m a total dork about it.”
By the time “Terminator” hit theaters this spring, with Howard playing Christian Bale’s pregnant wife, the 28-year-old actress indeed had a knowledgeable perspective on the enduring appeal of franchises — a perspective that will surely prove useful as she joins Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in Stephenie Meyer’s vampire saga.
“All of these films are about, at the center of them, these heroes who really accomplish extraordinary things and these huge spectacles,” Howard told us. “They’re all incredibly compelling stories.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Eclipse.”
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