After Deborah Chow’s celebrated directorial turn with The Mandalorian Episode 3, Bryce Dallas Howard is the next woman to direct a Star Wars with The Mandalorian episode 4. Don’t let that come as a surprise to you, though. The actress, known best for The Help, Jurassic World, and most recently Rocketman, has been directing short films and documentaries for over a decade. Seriously, Howard has a directing reel on Youtube (directorspeak for "resume") and everything.
Howard already has a connection to Star Wars too — her father, Ron Howard, starred in George Lucas’ American Graffiti, directed Lucasfilm’s Willow, and ultimately took over as the director of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
As for her own directorial style, luckily you can see pretty much everything she’s done online. Her shorts and documentaries are all very intimate, focusing mostly on interpersonal relationships. It's cool to see her bring that to something as big as Star Wars. Check out Howard’s history behind the camera:
Howard’s narrative directorial debut is a short film starring Katherine Waterston and Alfred Molina. They come together thanks to a newspaper advertisement and bond over photography and fears about the future.
when you find me (2011)
Her next short, five years later, is about the relationship between two sisters coping with their dying mother. Both this and Orchids have screenplays by Howard’s writing partner, Dane Charbeneau, who later became her brother-in-law!
Call Me Crazy: Lucy (2013)
This was part of a series of short films for Lifetime. The other directors in the series are none other than Laura Dern, Bonnie Hunt, and Ashley Judd. Howard’s segment is about a woman entering a treatment center after a suicide attempt and stars Brittany Snow, Octavia Spencer, and Jason Ritter.
“Claudia Lewis” by M83 (2013)
In 2013, Howard directed a super cute and colorful music video for the indie group M83 starring Lily Collins. The video is like a tiny YA film.
Vanity Fair: The ‘60s (2013)
This is a short documentary for Vanity Fair. In it, some of the interview subjects have a personal connection to Howard — like Henry Winkler, her father’s Happy Days co-star, as well as her own grandfather Rance Howard. What I really like about this five minute doc, personally, is that Howard has all of these celebrities get up and dance in addition to answering questions.
Next up is a film written and directed by Howard that honestly sounds like live action Pixar short to me. It’s a love/life story told from the perspective of shoes! How cute is that?!
Finally, Howard’s feature directorial debut is a documentary that came out this year and played a few film festivals. In it, she explores modern fatherhood with anecdotes from daddy vloggers as well as dad-lebrities including, yes, her own father as well as Jimmy Fallon, Will Smith, Judd Apatow, Hasan Minaj, Kenan Thompson, Neil Patrick Harris, and Patton Oswalt.
In a Variety interview about the film, Howard notes that she recently made the decision to direct full time. So The Mandalorian won’t be Howard’s last time behind the camera, by a long shot.