The re-imaged Pete’s Dragon soared into theaters back in August, and is now ready to make the journey home (to our home that is) via Blu-ray, Digital HD, and Disney Movies Anywhere, today. To mark the occasion, we caught up with Bryce Dallas Howard (Grace)—who we first spoke with over the summer—to learn even more about what it was like working on the gorgeous set of Pete’s Dragon.
During our chat, she discussed how working on location in New Zealand influenced the feeling on set, what it was like working with a CG character, and even divulged a touching story about her co-star, Robert Redford. Fly through the questions below to learn more.
What was it like finally seeing the film on the big screen? Was there anything in particular about the final version that impressed you?
“Being in New Zealand was a very soothing, healing, and restorative experience for all of us. The warmth of humanity is something you feel when you watch the movie. I was so delighted by that. It really brought me back to that time and place in my own memories. It was so awesome to finally see Elliot! He was so fuzzy and cuddly. That was definitely a surprise. I had heard about it and everything, and I had even seen tests of it, but it was different seeing the final version of him. It made me want to have a pet dragon.”
How difficult was it working with a CG character?
“When you’re working opposite a character that’s not there, and the performance is not there, you just really want to make sure you have a deep understanding of what it is eventually going to look like so that you can be responsive. Those moments are exhilarating to work on. There’s the balance between the creative and the technical, which is something I really love because I love the technical side of filmmaking. It’s always really fun to figure out how to pull off the magic trick. There’s always the moment when you’re filming the scene and you get locked in your own imagination where you’re experiencing something as if it’s actually happening. That’s why it’s super fun when you see the movie and you’re like ‘wait that’s exactly what I was imagining!’”
The cast seems like a fun group of people. Were there any memorable behind-the-scenes moments you have from working on the film?
“Oh yes. The second day of filming, Robert Redford saved a horse. There was a horse that was tied to a fence on the side of the freeway. The second day that Bob was in, he stopped and tried to find out who the owner of the horse was and ended up saving his life. He’s truly an amazing person.”
Did being in New Zealand help you get into character and immerse you into the world of Pete’s Dragon?
“I think it did. New Zealand is an absolutely magical country. It’s one where you’re there and you can imagine that a dragon living in the forest would be possible. I think being there and seeing things for the first time and seeing my children experience it for the first time, and being able to venture to different parts of NZ was something that left us feeling a sense of wonder and awe. It was a quality we experienced as well when we were on set. I think if we shot it on a soundstage, it wouldn’t have felt the same.”
What is the message you hope fans and kids get out of the film?
“I think that this movie definitely celebrates family, but not necessarily in a conventional sense. This is a boy who’s lost his own parents. It’s the story of what it takes to find your family after loss. That is one of the scarier things that a child can imagine for themselves. To see the story go from a little boy having courage and a beautiful friendship with a dragon, and then going on to find his family in the most unexpected ways; that’s a very hopeful story. In a way, finding your family after going through that is a miraculous experience. It’s almost a metaphor for the miracle and the magic that is actually what a family is, a close group of people who are dedicated and committed to each other for life.”