One of the biggest controversies surrounding the release of the new Jurassic World film was the common opinion that the movie perpetuated sexist stereotypes. Specifically, many viewers criticized the lead role of Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, for fulfilling the cold, career-obsessed woman trope. This assessment of the stock character was proven, some would say, by the fact that Bryce Dallas Howard spent the entirety of Jurassic World in high heels, even during the scenes when Claire was running for her life.
But Bryce Dallas Howard, who was surprised anybody even cared to notice the heels, has come to the defense of Ms. Dearing. In a recent interview with People Magazine, Bryce Dallas Howard claims that usually so much negative attention surrounding a certain aspect of her movies would worry her, but she was never ashamed to be wearing heels throughout Jurassic World. In fact, she was proud of it.
“If too much attention is called to it, it’s like, ‘Oh, man — maybe I did something wrong, because they’re paying attention to the thing that they really shouldn’t be paying attention to,'” said Bryce Dallas Howard. “But in this case, I loved it because I was like, ‘Yeah! Damn right I ran in heels!'”
The criticism of Claire Dearing went further than the heels alone, however. Joss Whedon characterized the complaints about Jurassic World most famously when he tweeted his reaction to the trailer, upset that the two leads were a carefree, rugged man and a stiff, unfeeling woman. Just as she was happy to receive all the attention on her heels, Bryce Dallas Howard was equally glad that people like Whedon are staying aware of gender roles in film.
“I mean, this is something that I’m so happy that there’s a heightened sensitivity to and awareness of,” she said. “Because that was something that was just always assumed: That a female character is just going to be sort of help facilitate the male lead and push the plot along.”
But Bryce also outright denied the accusations, saying, “that is not at all what this character was.”
Howard claims her character Claire was actually more well-rounded than the male lead played by Chris Pratt. Where most female parts in major Hollywood films simply fulfill the role of the supporting woman or the love interest, Bryce Dallas Howard portrayed a female protagonist who controls the plot and undergoes a serious change. Meanwhile, Chris Pratt’s character stays largely static throughout the film.
“When [director Colin Trevorrow] first told me about the movie, he was like, ‘she’s the lead,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it.’ He was like, ‘No, no, no. She’s the lead. She’s the one that changes. She’s the one who you meet in the beginning, and you are with at the end.’ And then when I read the film, I was like, ‘Holy crap — he’s doing it! He’s really, really doing it. In fact, this character is a central character who does go through huge change, she is flawed and she has all the attributes that typically a male character in one of these movies would have. And she is the hero at the end — and that’s awesome!”
Even though Bryce Dallas Howard made a point to defend her high heels in Jurassic World, she’s promised that Claire will be donning more sensible shoes for the sequel, according to the Mary Sue. Though she reminded viewers that Claire was only wearing heels because she was prepared for a day of professional work, not running from dinosaurs, she claims you won’t be seeing the heels return in Jurassic World 2, which is slated for release in 2018.
Do you think Jurassic World was actually sexist? Or do you agree with Bryce Dallas Howard?
[Photos by Frazer Harrison, Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]