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Bryce Dallas Howard discusses ‘fatherhood’ in ‘Dads’ documentary

Actress-director Bryce Dallas Howard and her dad, actor-director Ron Howard. CBS NEWS


Bryce Dallas Howard discusses ‘fatherhood’ in ‘Dads’ documentary


Dads, Bryce Dallas Howard’s feature directorial debut, is a documentary. Her editor Andrew Morreale (who is also a father) kept advising her that they should title it Dads Cry, she joked. “Because at some point I think pretty much every dad sheds a tear.”

Interviewing a father and a daughter has its ups and downs.

Bryce Dallas Howard said of her father, Ron Howard, “I feel really privileged to have been the beneficiary of having, like, a great dad, you know?

Ron responded, “Ah, shucks.”

How do we define the role of a father?  This is the primary question in Bryce Dallas Howard’s wonderful directorial debut, “Dads.” Ms. Howard, who is renowned for her appearances in “The Help” and “Jurassic World,” spoke to America about what inspired her current production and the constantly evolving position of a parent in contemporary culture ahead of its June 19 premiere on Apple TV+.

Bryce Dallas Howard admits that she was “insecure” at the start of her Hollywood career.


“I felt like I had something to prove” as the daughter of Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, the 39-year-old actor and filmmaker told TODAY Parents. “I wouldn’t invite my parents to the school plays and stuff like that. I hid them. I wanted people to pay attention to me because of me and not because of who I am related to.”

Short interviews with famous fathers, including Judd Apatow, Jimmy Fallon, Hasan Minhaj, Kenan Thompson, and Howard’s own father, filmmaker Ron Howard, are featured in the film. The majority of the 80-minute documentary, though, focuses on five dads you’ve probably never heard of, who explore the joys and hardships of having children.

The famous fathers serve as a sort of Greek chorus — and get all the best lines — while lesser-known fathers from all over the world provide the film’s heart, soul, and tears.

“When I first started making this movie I set out to make a comedy, believe it or not,” says Howard. “But during the process it became more and more personal to me, just seeing these dads share their stories. They’re just all so amazing and inspirational; just wonderful men.” Bryce Dallas said.

The show began with six year old Ron Howard. Bryce said, “My dad couldn’t read at the time … and so my granddad read for him.”

Ron recalled, “He said, you know, ‘They’re writing Opie the way they write every kid in a sitcom. It’s kind of wise-ass and funny, and it’ll get laughs, but wouldn’t it be different and interesting if Opie actually respected his father?’”

Yes, Ron Howard’s father was instrumental in changing the direction of a television masterpiece.

Ms. Howard opens the film by asking its many participants a simple but difficult question: What is a father to you? “A father is a caregiver, otherwise he’s not a father, he’s a man,” said Ms. Howard when posed the same question.

“What I realized in interviewing all these guys is that we’re treating dads like they’re in the background when they’re not,” Howard explained. “The vast majority of fathers are incredibly involved, present and committed. That needs to be acknowledged. It would be really hard for me to be a good mother when everyone assumed I wasn’t doing anything.”

When Ron became a father, he applied what he had learned. He told Cowan, “It’s not so much what you say, it’s really showing up. You just go all-in and say, ‘This is a priority. I’m going to very consciously do this right.’”

The majority of the film is made up of iPhone footage and archive material, fimed by the fathers, including sequences from Ms. Howard’s birth.

“I was really interested in the daddy blogger community, because that’s new. These are guys who are fathers, but they’re also storytellers and they’re filmmakers, because they’re capturing their stories and finding ways to share them,” she said.

Howard, who is the mother of two children, Theodore, 13, and Beatrice, 8, gave the example of her husband, Seth Gabel.

“When I was pregnant with Beatrice and then after she was born, if I was physically with Seth, I never changed a diaper,” Howard revealed. “It wasn’t something I asked for, it was just something he did.”

Howard notes that between the bumbling dad — think Homer Simpson, or Al Bundy of Married … With Children — and the absentee father, there are far more good mothers in popular culture than good dads.

“It’s especially rare that the camera has been on a father when he’s being a superstar,” she says. “In terms of family life and what it takes to be a parent, the camera has consistently been on mothers. And it’s very rare that the camera is on a father. So it’s time for our dads who are showing up and being amazing to at the very least be acknowledged.”

She, too, followed in her father’s footsteps as a director. And her gift to all fathers is her documentary “Dads,” which will be available on Apple TV on Friday.

“I hope this is a movie for dads so they don’t feel so alone,” she added.

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