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Famous father aside, this director gets to know some ‘Dads’

Ron Howard isn’t just an Oscar-winning director. He’s father of this year and all others to his daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, who is following in Pop’s footsteps as an actor-director and has his penchant for getting to the heart of the matter.

Here’s a good one for Father’s Day: “One day, not long ago, I asked my father, ‘Dad, was I ever tough to parent for you?’” she says in a Zoom interview.

“He replied, ‘Not really. You always made a lot of sense to me,’ ” she adds with a laugh. “It was just a perfect father-daughter moment.”

Howard wasn’t just asking for herself. She has become quite an expert on fatherhood thanks to her new, critically acclaimed documentary, “Dads,” which is streaming now on Apple TV+.

The 80-minute family-friendly film includes tips from famous father figures including Will Smith, Judd Apatow, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong and Jimmy Kimmel. You’d have to be made out of rock not to shed a few tears when the regular fathers from all walks of life talk about their kids — challenges and all.

For Howard, 39, this is just the beginning of a directing career that also includes calling the shots for episodes of the “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” Plus, she’ll reprise her role as dino-dodging Claire Dearing in “Jurassic World: Dominion,” set for release in 2021.

At home, her biggest adventure is parenting 8-year-old daughter Beatrice and 13-year-old son Theodore with actor husband Seth Gabel.

Review-Journal: How is quarantine going at your home in upstate New York?

Bryce Dallas Howard: It’s a lot of cooking. I seem to be doing a lot of roasting. All in all, I feel very grateful for a number of reasons. Most of all, I’m thankful that we’re all healthy and working together to figure it all out.

How are your kids adjusting?

I have a very mature 8-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old boy. As a mother, I think they’re old enough to do their own laundry and clean their own toilets. It really works well if you give kids simple jobs. Otherwise, we try to cool it on the media and internet.

Is directing a documentary about dads the best Father’s Day present ever?

(Laughs.) It’s definitely my hope that folks can watch this with the entire family — mothers, fathers and kids. That’s a great Father’s Day present: just doing something together. Otherwise, it really is a tribute to fathers, who are our unsung heroes. It also explores the ups and downs of fatherhood in our times.

For instance, I was really struck by the fact that the majority of fathers who are offered paternity leave to be with their children do not take it. There are still stigmas around the idea of men leaving their jobs for a period of time.

People think, “Oh, they’re not committed to making a living.” This is wildly problematic in our culture and undermines fathers. Knowing this made me really excited to do a documentary about modern fathers.

You ask all of your interview subjects to complete this statement: “A dad is … ” What is your reply?

A dad is a caretaker. To me, “to father” is not an event. Being a caretaker is not an event. It’s a state of being. Mothers are most certainly caretakers, but so are fathers. A father is also a constant to me. I’ve observed with my own father and with my husband that fathering is something that happens without a lot of fanfare.

What has been your father’s most powerful lesson to you?

My dad is just a wonderful example as a person, and that is the lesson. He also empowers those around him. Deep down, my dad has a really tender, beautiful heart. That’s another great lesson: Keep your heart open.

Does your dad give you tips about the film business?

Not really. Even when I ask him for advice, my dad so readily dismisses his own words of wisdom and says, “You don’t need that advice. You know what to do! This will be easy for you.” My father thinks highly of the people he loves.

Do you have one of those “Oh, Dad” moments when he’s being a bit overprotective?

He hates the idea that something could hurt his kid’s feelings. I’m like, “Dad, I’m 39! I think you would know that I’ve been knocked off the pedestal by life a few times now. And I’m OK!” But he still worries. He’s a dad.

Finally, please give us some “Jurassic World: Dominion” scoop. You and Chris Pratt are filming with the OG dino busters Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum.

Can you believe that cast! Could there be any more anticipation? I can’t wait to film with everyone, which hasn’t happened yet. But soon, we’ll be back on set. I can say that we’ve done certain scenes with just part of the group, and it was thrilling. Oh, and one more thing … the dinosaurs are back, too!

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