I was absolutely taken aback by Bryce Dallas Howard in M. Night Shyamalan’s lackluster The Village, she was the bright spot in a disappointing film and she is following up that performance with a role in Lars von Trier’s Cannes Film Festival entry Manderlay and in her second major role in a feature film she is giving audiences a little more than they may expect.
The 24-year-old actress is the daughter of director Ron Howard and admits to CNN that she is “a bit of a prude,” but she also admits that her sex scene in Manderlay was larger than her personal inhibitions when she said, “I felt like it was a really important scene, and this film is bigger than who I am and my own kind of ego and my own prudishness.”
CNN describes the scene as a strange combination of violent passion and detached lovelessness between her character and a former slave played by Isaach De Bankole.
In the film Howard is playing Grace, taking over the role originally played by Nicole Kidman in Dogville, the first installment in Von Trier’s trilogy. Grace’s father and his army of villain had spent the entire winter seeking out new hunting grounds in vain, and now, in an early month of spring, they are driving south in one last attempt to find a favourable location in which to take up residence. They soon discover an Alabama plantation where a group of people are living as if slavery had not been abolished seventy years earlier, with white masters and black slaves.
The CNN article goes on to say that Howard had to gather her thoughts and psyche herself up and convince her the revealing scene was not a problem, “I said, ‘All right, you have to do this. It’s ridiculous for you to have issues with this.’ Just view it as if you’re doing a sketch on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and this is funny, because I’ll do anything to be funny, and most people will. They’ll do ridiculous things that they can’t be held accountable for.
“So that’s what happened. I just started to look at it as some sort of comedic scene. Just in my head. And interestingly enough, Lars kind of felt that. The scene wasn’t written funny at all, but there are some really eccentric and absurd moments in that scene that people tend to chuckle at.”