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Health & Parenting

Bryce Dallas Howard on Acting, Mothering, and Staying Healthy

With two highly anticipated movies and baby No. 2 on the way, the young actress claims her place in the A-list spotlight.
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Bryce Dallas Howard's New Roles continued...

Howard plays the bad guy in both movies. Or should we say, bad girl. "Honestly, for an actor it's fun," she tells WebMD the Magazine of taking on polarizing characters. "I was initially hesitant to do The Help, because while it's a wonderful book, it's also rooted in a lot of painful truths ... but I had the greatest time ever working with these women [co-stars Emma Stone and Viola Davis] and playing this character, even if she is a despicable human being."

The "despicable human being" is nasty Hilly Holbrook, the meanest creature of fiction to appear since race-baiting Bob Ewell ruined lives in To Kill a Mockingbird. Sweet-as-a-snake Hilly is a society princess and stalwart segregationist in 1960s Jackson, Miss. For her, the issue of civil rights isn't to be debated or advanced; it's to be halted altogether. And she's more than willing to do her part.

It's Howard's other new film, 50/50, that wrestles with 21st-century issues -- examining how dizzying it can be to navigate our at-times unwieldy health care system.

Powerful and authentic, the film was written by TV producer Will Reiser, who was diagnosed with a rare spinal cancer six years ago at age 25 and was given a 50/50 chance of surviving. Gordon-Levitt plays a character who finds himself in a similar situation, with Rogen going for laughs and getting them as the best friend who’s enraged by Howard’s character, the girlfriend who’s rather lukewarm about becoming the caretaker of a chemotherapy patient.

Asked what drew her to the part, Howard says: "First and foremost, I wanted to work with those boys [Rogen's team]. And I wanted the experience of being part of this incredible story."

Caretaking for Those With Serious Illness

The film explores how falling into the rabbit hole of illness redefines not just life expectancy, but relationships. Tough questions drive the plot: Who takes you to and from treatments when you're in no shape to do it yourself? Pushes for the best treatment? And is unquestionably there for you when the going gets tough?

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