Bryce Dallas Howard Is Putting Debate About Her Figure to Rest: 'I've Retired Talking About My Body' (Exclusive)

“My focus is on what my body is doing, what my body is capable of," the 'Argylle' star tells PEOPLE

<p>Lia Toby/Getty</p>  Bryce Dallas Howard

Lia Toby/Getty

Bryce Dallas Howard

Bryce Dallas Howard has long championed body positivity, especially in Hollywood.

And frankly, she feels done with the subject.

“I've retired talking about my body,” the Argylle star tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “My focus is on what my body is doing, what my body is capable of.”

The reflective star, who broke out 20 years ago with M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and in 2022 wrapped a decade of Jurassic World films opposite Chris Pratt, recalls years spent gently pushing back when asked to lose weight for roles. Now, she’s begun to invite direct conversations before signing on.

“What I found was best is to just be in communication with folks early in the hiring process,” she says. “What I would say is that, 'If you want to cast me, awesome. But if you think you want to cast me, but 20 pounds less me or 40 pounds less me, that's actually another actor. That's not me, and I'm not going to shame you in this moment about this. We need to have a real conversation here because if you're hiring me, you're hiring me.'" 

Related: Bryce Dallas Howard Is 'Hyper Alert' as a Parent After Coping with Kidnapping Threats as a Child (Exclusive)

<p>Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures</p> Bryce Dallas Howard and Samuel L. Jackson in "Argylle."

Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures

Bryce Dallas Howard and Samuel L. Jackson in "Argylle."

That included her latest film, Argylle (now in theaters). Ahead of filming director Matthew Vaughn’s new spy thriller, “I had that conversation with Matthew. And Matthew, was like, 'Yeah, I'm hiring you.’" Playing an introverted spy novelist who finds herself fighting for her life when thrust into real espionage, "I was even stronger because of it," she adds. "I was able to do more because of it."

Howard has always found it uncomfortable to be the face of these conversations. “Who I am is someone who fluctuates,” she says. “I took some time and it took some work and it took some counsel to really realize that dieting is the enemy, for me at least.”

Today, the mom of two focuses on strength - “training my body to accomplish X, Y or Z for whatever given circumstances I need to bring to life for a movie.”

She’s also steadily expanding her work behind the camera, directing episodes of The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett and the upcoming Star Wars: Skeleton Crew after years spent studying the process on film sets.

Related: Ron Howard Says He'd 'Probably' Act Again If Daughter Bryce Dallas Howard Directed Him

“I love directing, and it’s as important to me as acting,” she says. "It's been really wonderful to lean more into gaining experience, and I love to work."

In this chapter of her life, Howard feels clear. “There are things that I've come to peace about,” she says.  And whatever comes next, she is ready. “I feel very grateful for this stability in my relationships and in my family," she says. "And in terms of the wildness of what the future may hold, stay tuned.”

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