Talking (Spider) Sense with "Spider-Man 3" actor Bryce Dallas Howard

NOTE: This interview contains minor spoilers.

Spider-Man 3 opens nationwide on May 4th, and in anticipation of the event, CBR News will be over the coming days presenting a number of new special spider-features. We spoke previously with director Sam Raimi, actors Tobey Maguire, Thomas Haden Church, James Franco, Topher Grace and Kirsten Dunst. In this final interview with the cast and crew of Spider-Man 3, CBR News spoke with actor Bryce Dallas Howard about the new film, her iconic character, and his feelings about the whole Spider-Man experience.

How excited were you to be involved in "Spider-Man 3?"

So excited! I love this franchise. I was a huge fan of the first film. When I saw the second film I was completely blown away because I honestly thought it was better than the first one, which I didn't know was possible. I became one of those people who was going on the internet to see what were the rumors, to see what was going on. When I found out that they were thinking of adding another female character, I was just all over that.

When you were doing research you must have discovered that Gwen Stacy died. Everybody knows she died. Were you expecting that when you read the script?

I wasn't sure what was going to happen. The script did change a lot but there was never an incarnation where that actually occurred. I have to say, though, that when I did start doing research and a picture of her popped up on the internet, I looked at it and thought, "Are they serious? That's me as this character?" That's such a specific look and it's not something I ever envisioned myself doing or ever being able to do. So there was a lot of hair and makeup meetings to figure out the look.

How long did it take to film your action scene, with the building falling apart?

Weeks! [laughs] It was so much fun to shoot because they built this three or four story structure inside of a sound stage and over and over again they would just collapse it. All these desks and coffee machines would just like fall down and smash on the ground. They'd sweep it up and set it up again. They put a harness on me so of course I was safe the entire time but they really let me fall. There was no acting involved in that scene whatsoever. Literally.

Did you sign on to the film before the script was done?

No. I was actually involved really late in the process. It was a couple of days before shooting started, I believe, in January. So the script was already set. Of course during the entire process there were a lot of rewrites and a lot of changes. But I was involved as late in the process as was possible.

What were your biggest surprises in making this film?

What was really surprising to me was the amount of time that was dedicated to the complexity of the characters in rehearsals. I was surpsied by how much effort the producers and obviously Sam put into making sure that this really was a film with a lot of gravity to it and that the performances were what they wanted and that the characters were what they wanted. I just assumed all the focus would be on the CGI and the action and was really delighted [that it wasn't]. I was also struck by the fact that the set felt so intimite. It felt like we were making some kind of independent film. Everyone knew each other and they'd done two films previously, obviously, so it was almost like a family. It was a very warm and easy going set. I just saw the film a couple days ago and I thought, "Oh my god , this is what we were doing?" It felt so small while we were making it.

Did you have a lot of friends that wanted to visit you on this project?

[laughs] One of my best friends who's my sister's boyfriend, one of my greatest friends in the world, he would just all of a sudden show up in my trailer almost every day and say, "Where's Venom? When do we get to see Venom?" I'd be like, "Please, Topher, just humor us!" Topher would walk into the trailer in his costume and my friend - who's like this really overconfident person - would just be shaking he was so excited.

Gwen's strongest moment is that scene where she's watching Peter dance just to stick it to Mary Jane, and Gwen calls him out on it. Were you happy with the way that played out?

Yeah, I was. I'm sure as you guys know, the character of Gwen Stacy, initially in the comic book, was Peter Parker's first love. She was around in the mid to late 60s and early 70s, and therefore I really wanted to be true to this character. I didn't want to just come into the third film as this man-stealing, home-wrecking tart. I mean this is Gwen Stacy. I was glad that the way the relationship was [in the film was] that she was friends with Peter and there was a closeness there and that unintentionally, she created some tension in his and Mary Jane's romance. So yeah, I was very pleased with that.

Did you read any comics during your research?

Oh, yeah. I would have been an idiot not to. I felt really glad to be playing this part and it was a challenge. It wasn't like, "Oh yeah, this is something I know. Sexy blonde. Absolutely." It was something totally new for me. Going to the comic books and just reading through it and reading through all the different analyses that people had about this character and their world was fantastic and something that I'm used to doing. I'm used to doing parts you do a lot of research for and you go and do your job.  

Would you be interested in developing this character in subsequent films, and what would it take to get you on board?

What would it take? Just asking! [laughs] I've been very vocal about the fact that I really want to be a part of the fourth film if there is one. I love the exerpience. This was one of the best experiences of my life. Truly. I almost didn't feel like I was making a movie. We shot in Los Angeles, that's where I live with my husband. I made a lot of really lasting friendships. It was a blast. I love these films. I love what they represent. Sure, these are huge, huge films and it's always great to be involved with something that at the end of the day you know is going to be seen - knock on wood. Just from a moral standpoint, I think these films really have something to say and I think that's very important.

There's a whole population of Spider-Man fans who feel Gwen Stacy never should have died. Have you had any interaction with these fans who are thrilled to see this character on screen?

Not much interaction other than the fact that I've been scouring the internet for every blog possible and just reading everything they have to say about it. That is a tremendous reseouce. These are people who have devoted a lot of time and a lot of emotional effort. It's almost like writing theses on what the significance of this character is in Spider-Man's life and what not. So I have a lot of reverence for how committed they are and I hope I did an okay job. I get that. I get how important it is.

You've got James Cromwell playing your dad.

Yeah, he's great, wasn't he? He is such a stellar actor. I was so glad how tall he is, too. I'm kind of tall and I'm always so nervous they'll cast my dad and it will look weird, but he's just fantastic and the perfect Captain Stacy.

How did it feel to be on set, as a fan of the series?

It was absolutely thrilling. I won't forget the first time I saw the Spider-Man suit. It was like I didn't want to stare. Sometimes, you know, when you see a celebrity and you don't want to stare? "Oh my god, there's so-and-so!" That's how I felt with the Spider-Man suit. I was nervous to stare at it. It was so much fun. There's a moment when were in New York City and I did a zip line. We were five stories above the concrete and we zip down and Spider-Man was holding me and I was holding Spider-Man and I was just like, "I'm being saved by Spider-Man!" It's really, really fun.

Also because where I was shooting, a block away, only a few years previously, is where one of my bosses lived. Where I would go and walk her dog. I could literally see her house and office and I was like, "Yeah, I'm with Spider-Man."

What were your favorite parts of the movie?

I love the heightened realism of the dance sequence in the bar. When your'e doing a film where it's just like, talk talk talk, you don't get to really do things like that. That was so much fun, I felt like I was in some kind of old Hollywood musical doing that sequence.

In your research did you encounter the various revisions of Gwen?

Yeah, the cloning and stuff. She came back a few times. They really tried. One of the first things that I read about her - and I don't know if this is true or a theory or what - but they said that her death marked the end of the Silver Age of comic books. And I was just like, "Oh my god, this is incredible. And a little intimidating." I wanted to make sure [my performance] was right.

In the process of making "Spider-Man 3," have you become a fan of the comics medium?

Definitely a new appreciation. I can't call myself a comic book geek because I think it takes several years of commitment in order to do that. But for my birthday, my brother went on eBay and got a whole series of books for me. I do think it's a beautiful art form and actually one that I really want to preserve for my son. I think with video games and all of this, I think it's dissipating slightly. I think it's really important that it be preserved. I can't wait to introduce this whole thing to him.


Now discuss this story in CBR's TV/Film forum.

Netflix's I Am Mother: The Shocking Ending, Explained

More in Movies