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Interview: Bryce Dallas Howard on Opie and Tennessee

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When actress Bryce Dallas Howard casually mentions both her father and her son in a phone interview, it takes a minute to make the leap to -- Ron Howard is a grandfather? Opie is... Gramps?

But that's just part of the reality for Howard, 28, who stars in The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, which opens today (12.30.09) in limited release. The film, which also stars Chris Evans, Ellen Burstyn and Ann-Margret, is the feature directing debut of actress Jodie Markell - and has a script that's an unproduced screenplay by the late Tennessee Williams.

In Teardrop Diamond, Howard plays debutante Fisher Willow, who elevates working-class Jimmy (Evans) to beau status, to attend the season's balls in Memphis during the 1920s. It's a character easily identifiable as Williams', yet with a difference.

Howard, who broke through in M. Night Shymalan's The Village in 2004, spoke recently in a telephone interview about playing one of Tennessee Williams' resilient blossoms, as well as about having a famous father.

Q: How did you get involved with this project?
A:
(Director Jodie Markell) wanted me to be part of it. That was so incredible. When I first learned that it was a Tennessee Williams screenplay that was fully developed and un-produced, I thought, how the heck is that possible? Was it lost for a reason? But it fit so well in his canon. You don't read characters like that these days.

Q: She's not the prototypical Williams heroine, in that she seems much more in control of her own fate.
A:
She's an interesting character. She's teetering the whole time but she never falls over. That's unusual for a Williams woman. You see a lot of women in his work who have already lost themselves. She's like Blanche, 15 years earlier, someone who's still able to face reality courageously. What I felt about her was that she was this young woman who's still got a chance to do something. She talks about escaping to Europe and I think she will.

Q: Had you ever played a Williams heroine before?
A:
The irony for me is, when I was in school, I always wanted to be in Williams' scenes for class and I never was.

This interview continues on my website.