Playing an introverted author in the new action-thriller is "probably the closest to me as a person that I’ve played before" she tells PEOPLE
Bryce Dallas Howard spent a decade braving bioengineered dinosaurs in three Jurassic World movies, but off-screen, she’s known for being far more measured.
“What I always joke about is that the only risks I take are in my work, I'm so risk averse,” the Argylle star tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.
Howard, who has a 17-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter with her husband, actor Seth Gabel, says she’s laid back as a mom-with one caveat.
“I'm not very strict as a parent,” the 42-year-old says, “but I'll ask my kids, "Do you think I'm strict?" And they're like, "No, you're not. Except when it comes to safety."
It came to the fore recently as Howard’s eldest learned how to drive.
“My son is in the process of getting his license right now and the poor boy, what I put him through,” she laughs. “He basically can be a race car driver at this point because I'm like, ‘You're not allowed to get your license until you know how to do every defensive driving move imaginable."
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Howard’s habitual tendency for cost-benefit analysis drew her the action thriller Argylle, in which she plays an introverted spy novelist suddenly thrust into a real underground crime syndicate. “It’s a new kind of character” for the actress, “and probably the closest to me as a person that I’ve played before.”
The role fit like a glove, she says. “This movie is so much about her connecting to her power and her connecting to feeling empowered and feeling courageous and overcoming her anxiety and getting out there and I think that for me doing this movie felt very empowering.”
Still, Howard has been putting it all on the line onscreen for over two decades, navigating gutsy turns from her breakout in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village 20 years ago (“an incredibly physical movie” that was “life-changing in every single way,” she recalls) to projects spanning Spider-Man 3, a subversive Black Mirror turn, The Help, and the Jurassic World trilogy alongside Chris Pratt.
“I was born to act and perform and be a storyteller,” says Howard, who was raised largely outside of Los Angeles by her father, director Ron Howard, and mother Cheryl, a novelist, the latter who partly inspired her latest turn in Argylle. “My mom is a novelist and her imagination is epic and wants nothing to do with anything social,” she says.
She’s also slowly been building her résumé as a director, helming episodes of The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and the upcoming Star Wars: Skeleton Crew after years spent studying the process as an actor on film sets. “I love directing, and it’s as important to me as acting,” she says.
Whatever comes next, Howard is ready. “I feel very grateful for this stability in my relationships and in my family,” she says. “ And in terms of the wildness of what the future may hold, we’ll see.”
For more about Howard, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE.
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