Bryce Dallas Howard was born on March 2, 1981, in Los Angeles, California. She was conceived in Dallas, Texas (the reason for her middle name). Her father, named Ron Howard, is a former actor turned Oscar-winning director. Her mother is actress and writer Cheryl Howard (nee Alley). Her famous relatives include her uncle, actor Clint Howard, and her grandparents, actor Rance Howard and actress Jean Speegle Howard. She also has two younger twin sisters, named Jocelyn and Paige, born in 1985, and a brother, Reed Howard, born in 1987.
Howard was raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, because her parents decided to raise their four children as far away from the trappings of showbiz milieu as possible. During most of her childhood she really did not have much access to a TV. She attended Greenwich Country Day School, and Byram Hills High School in Armonk, New York. At that time, she discovered existentialism and devoured books by Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. She attended the prestigious Steppenwolf School and Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts camp at Catskills together with her friend Natalie Portman. She applied to drama school as Bryce Dallas, dropping her last name to eschew special treatment because of association with her renown father. From 1999-2003, she studied at the Stella Adler Conservatory and at the New York University Tisch School of Arts and graduated with a BFA degree in Drama in 2003. At that time, she performed in Broadway productions of classical plays by George Bernard Shaw, William Shakespeare and Anton Chekhov.
Young Howard appeared in three of her father's films as an extra, including her appearance as a child together with her mother in Apollo 13 (1995). She made her feature-film debut as Heather, a supporting role in Book of Love (2004) by director Alan Brown. Director M. Night Shyamalan was impressed by her performance in a Broadway play and cast her without an audition as a female lead in his two thrillers: The Village (2004) and Lady in the Water (2006). Howard replaced Nicole Kidman in Dogville (2003) sequel, Manderlay (2005). She stars as Rosalind in As You Like It (2006), a reprise of her stage role that made such an impression on Shyamalan. She is also billed as Gwen Stacy in the third installment of the Spider-Man franchise, Spider-Man 3 (2007).
Howard became a devoted vegan since Joaquin Phoenix showed her Earthlings (2007), a documentary about animal cruelty. After seeing that, she has consumed no animal products, not even milk or eggs. Her other activities outside of the acting profession include playing basketball and writing.
On June 17, 2006, in Connecticut, she married her long-term boyfriend, actor Seth Gabel, whom she met at New York University and had dated for five years. On February 16, 2007, Bryce and her husband, Seth, became parents of their first child, a boy, named Theodore Norman Howard Gabel.