Bryce Dallas Howard
Conceived in Dallas, TX - hence her middle name - and born in Los Angeles, Howard was raised the daughter of former child actor-turned-Oscar- winning director, Ron Howard, and actress Cheryl Howard. Though born in Southern California, the actress spent her youth growing up in scenic, but stodgy Greenwich, CT, where she graduated from the Greenwich County Day School in 1996. At 17, she was accepted into the drama program at the esteemed Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and also studied at the famed Stella Adler Conservatory. In keeping with her conviction to pursue acting on her own, Howard enrolled as Bryce Dallas, dropping her famed last name to avoid receiving special treatment. Her first play, "House Garden," directed by the accomplished Alan Ayckbourn, was a challenge for the young actress. As two plays - one "House," the other "Garden" - performed simultaneously on adjacent stages, the actors had to move between sets in the telling of two different, yet similarly-themed stories. While the stage production received mixed reviews, Howard was noted for her exemplary performance.Subsequent theater work helped Howard hone her already exceptional talents, including roles in Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" and French dramatist Molière's masterpiece "Tartuffe." Howard soon made her film debut in the independent drama "Book of Love" (2004) by director Alan Brown, which premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, though was never theatrically released. Meanwhile, she returned to the stage, delivering a critically-acclaimed performance as Rosalind in Shakespeare's "As You Like It" that captured the attention of director M. Night Shyamalan. On the advice of producer Scott Rudin, Shyamalan attended the production and was immediately taken in by Howard. When Kirsten Dunst dropped out of "The Village" (2004) after previously being attached to star, Shyamalan offered the unknown Howard the opportunity to play the blind daughter of the chief elder (William Hurt) of a small 19th century village cut off from the rest of the world. Also starring opposite Joaquin Phoenix and Sigourney Weaver, Howard was lauded for her performance as the mesmerizing blind girl with an unusual wisdom beyond her years.To bolster her Hollywood arrival, Howard was cast in Lars Von Trier's "Manderlay" (2005), the second in the director's "U, S and A" trilogy. As with "The Village," Howard was cast to replace a previously attached star - in this case Nicole Kidman - and played Grace, the part Kidman originated in "Dogville" (2004), who discovers a Southern town that still practices slavery despite being 70 years removed from the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. In short order, Howard had gone from virtual unknown to hot commodity entirely on her own terms. Coming off the buzz from "The Village," Howard reunited with Shyamalan for the director's child-like fantasy thriller, "Lady in the Water" (2006), playing a water nymph who suddenly appears in the swimming pool of an apartment building run by a superintendent (Paul Giamatti). On the run from the vicious scrunts - demon-like creatures from her secret world who are set on destroying her - the nymph is helped by the superintendent and the building's motley group of tenants (Mary Beth Hurt, Jeffrey Wright and Shyamalan) in getting her back home.After reprising Rosalind for Kenneth Branagh's version of "As You Like It" (2006), which earned her a Golden Globe nomination, Howard was cast as Gwen Stacy in the highly anticipated comic book sequel "Spider-Man 3" (2007). Though the character was Spider-Man's first love in the comics and died tragically at the hands of the Green Goblin, Howard's role in the film was changed to being the other woman when Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) uses her to embarrass Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) after he becomes infected by an extraterrestrial organism. Taking a step back from appearing in blockbusters, she starred in "The Loss of Teardrop Diamond" (2009), period romantic drama based on a lost Tennessee Williams screenplay from 1957. Howard played Fisher Willow, a headstrong Memphis socialite who defies social conventions to pursue love, only to find her dreams dashed after the loss of a priceless diamond. Returning to big budget movies, she played Kate Connor, wife of Resistance leader John Connor (Christian Bale), in McG's critically panned "Terminator Salvation" (2009), the fourth film in the long-running franchise.Meanwhile, Howard was cast as Victoria in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (2010), replacing actress Rachel Lefevre, who had played the role in the first two installments of the wildly popular franchise. As soon as the news was announced, fans were in an uproar over the loss of Lefevre over an alleged scheduling conflict, directing much of their ire toward the film's production company, Summit Entertainment, even though Howard previously turned down the part before the first film was made because the role was too small. A surprised Lefevre expressed public sadness over losing the role, while director Catherine Hardwicke lamented her lack of participation in the decision. This marked the third time Howard replaced another actress in a similar vein, the first being Nicole Kidman, who had played Grace in "Dogville" (2003), and Claire Danes, who had portrayed Kate Brewster in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" (2003).