Now, the 30-year-old Howard, known for her roles in Spider-Man 3, Hereafter and Twilight: Eclipse, is handling other peoples' money. She produced the Cannes Film Festival entry Restless, starring Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) as a terminally ill teen who falls for Henry Hopper's funeral-crashing orphan. The movie is scheduled to open stateside Sept. 16.
The Price of Fame asked Howard during the festival for advice on how to juggle a budget in any group endeavor.
"When money's at stake, you really need to anticipate the people you're working with," she said. "If they're like 80% predictable, you're safe. But if they're 70% predictable, don't get near them."
But Howard still had issues to solve. Talks with unions, location shifts, and having to ask certain parties to adjust their fees came with the new territory. "Those are always different conversations to have," she said.
Howard initially got involved in the project to shepherd college pal Jason Lew's screenplay. She said she isn't the "I can make things happen, baby" wheeler-dealer just yet.
"I really can't say that I was ever alone in tackling financial complications because I was the most green," she said. Partnering with her Oscar-winning pop and his Imagine Entertainment company and Columbia Pictures "provided a lot of insurance for me to make sure that I wouldn't make any misjudgment about what we should do."
Howard, married to Fringe actor Seth Gabel, has said she became financially independent in 2003 and has no trust fund. But she does heed her dad's advice on personal finance. At the height of the recession, she told me that the elder Howard had counseled her to not equate money with success or failure, because that would lead her to make fiscal choices with her emotions. But if she were to objectively reduce money to a numbers game, she would always have her budgeting priorities straight.
That isn't always easy to remember at Cannes, the film industry's annual gathering of glitz, ego and deal-making. Howard, walking tall in six-inch heels, is still an actress-for-hire more than a mogul-in-the-making. "I'm not an expert yet," she said.