Having worked with legends M. Night Shyamalan, Kenneth Branagh and Lars Von Trier, never mind being spawned by a famous director, Bryce Dallas Howard was recently met with the most formidable kind of auteur — a dead one.
“We all felt a healthy amount of pressure because to not acknowledge the responsibility, there would be negative repercussions to that,” says the actress, whose dad is director Ron Howard. She’s talking about handling the work of Tennessee Williams, specifically his previously unproduced screenplay, “The Loss of the Teardrop Diamond.”
Howard stars in the film, directed by Jodie Markell, as the rebellious and boozy Southern belle Fisher Willow, who finds herself shunned by society for her family’s scandalous legacy and her own wild behavior. Lindsay Lohan was originally signed for the role, but given her personal dramas, it’s no surprise the troubled actress gave up the part.
The lack of timidity in Williams’ heroine was more of a challenge for Howard, who struggled to find something that could link her own, more understated persona to that of Fisher Willow.
“She’s unapologetic, she’s balls to the wall. Every scene, it’s like she’s going in there and there are no apologies for anything, and that’s not a state of mind that I’m personally very familiar with,” says Howard. “I walk in like I’m from Connecticut, so I’m apologizing.”
More than mastering those unruly emotions for the screen, the shadow of the legendary Southern writer who penned the piece loomed over Howard most throughout production: “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope I don’t destroy this because it’s just such a special opportunity, and oh my gosh, it would be blasphemy to destroy an unperformed Tennessee Williams heroine,” she says of her trepidation. “The jury’s still out.”