In an interview with Movie Fanatic, Bryce Dallas Howard admitted recently that she normally doesn’t get offered roles such as Hilly Holbrook.
Howard is at times a hero (Terminator Salvation), the ingenue (The Village) or simply pure evil (Twilight Saga: Eclipse). Yet, in The Help, her character is a product of her times, and as such isn’t really a villain as much as she is simply ignorant in her evil.
The daughter of Ron Howard basked in the opportunity not only to play Hilly, but also be part of a phenomenon that is the book the movie is based on, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. She also adored serving as one spoke in a powerful wheel that is a superstar cast of actresses.
The Help also stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain and Allison Janney in the story of a young writer (Stone) who decides enough is enough when it comes to how The Help are treated in 1960s Mississippi. The film establishes that not only is it a societal no-no to have a white person speak to an African American during that time, but that interaction could also land one in jail.
So, it was with great courage that Stone’s Skeeter Phelan took pen to paper to showcase to the world the living situation of the poorest of Mississippi’s peoples in her book.
Movie Fanatic: Did you have any concerns about playing a polarizing figure?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It was a circumstance where I auditioned and I don't think I would have cast myself [laughs] as this part. So, once I was cast, I had to have a certain amount of faith in the producers and director for making the right decision or I would have been a little fearful that I couldn’t do it.
Movie Fanatic: Why was it personally important to you to be a part of this movie?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I loved the script. I wanted a chance to audition. I asked which part they wanted me to audition for and when they said Hilly, I was really surprised. Even the way in which the book entered the zeitgeist by way of smaller book stores at first, then book clubs -- then it really caught fire and people got really excited about it.
Movie Fanatic: What was the experience like filming in Mississippi?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It was so, so warm. I had been in the South in that time of year before. So, I was prepared for that. The heat in the South is almost another character.
Movie Fanatic: Once you got into costume, did it further enhance your mentality capturing Hilly?
Bryce Dallas Howard: I think Hilly is such an outrageous character in so many ways. Without the hair, the makeup and the costumes, I think I would have had a much more difficult transition to make.
Movie Fanatic: What did it mean to you personally and professionally to be part of such a fantastic cast in The Help?
Bryce Dallas Howard: It literally could not have been a more supportive group of people and creative group of people. In terms of our approach, we were all really on the same page in terms of our methodology. It was really kind of fantastic. You can’t strive for that in every movie because you never know. I just came from lunch with everybody and [laughs] we just have so much fun together. It’s a really, really great group.