Interview: Bryce Dallas Howard on Opie and Tennessee

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?
(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.
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?
The irony for me is, when I was in school, I always wanted to be in Williams' scenes for class and I never was.