"I was brought up on Disney and loved the original animated version," she says. "I'm exactly the age that is the sweet spot for that film." And after starring in a few grown-up films (including 50/50, The Help and Jurassic World), she was enthusiastic about making a family movie. "I'm extremely protective of my own children and what I let them watch," she says. "When I was reading the script, I felt absolutely transported and my heart was moved. I felt this was something I would be so proud to be a part of because I feel it's a wonderful story for children."

Bryce Dallas Howard and Wes Bentley in Pete's Dragon

And the irony of moving from dinosaurs to dragons wasn't lost on her. "I shot Jurassic World, and then just a few months later Pete's Dragon," Howard says. "I was very much in that world of reptilian fantasy characters, and I kept messing up the whole time. I'd be like, 'Okay, where's the dinosaur? No, I mean dragon!' It was a weird thing, with the stark difference that when looking at dinosaurs, your expression is mostly fear. When looking at the friendliest, sweetest, most adorable dragon on the planet, your expression is largely one of love, excitement and fun. Eventually, by the time I was ending the shoot, I was clear on the dragon situation."

Howard is of course second generation Hollywood royalty, daughter of Oscar-winning director Ron Howard. But she was reluctant to use his name. "When I first set out as an actor, I didn't want anyone to know who I was," she explains. "So I used the name Bryce Dallas, until I realised it sounded a little like a porn star!"

Now that she's an established actress in her own right, she finds it a bit funny that she's never worked with her father. "He's never hired me for anything," she laughs. "My dad was shocked when M Night Shyamalan hired me for The Village. He was like, 'What?!' But I recently had a chat with him and I said, 'You're a man of your age, and I'm a woman of my age. The clock is ticking! Let's do this while we still have a lot of energy.'"

But first, she has to head back to the dinosaurs for the Jurassic World sequel. "I'm probably going to be like, 'Where's the dragon?'" she laughs. "Seriously, it was a real problem!"

Watch the trailer for Pete's Dragon: