Set in the South in the 1960s, the best-selling book-turned-movie The Help (in theaters Aug. 10) explores the Civil Rights movement and the unlikely friendships that form between a progressive young writer (played by Emma Stone) and two African-American housekeepers (Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer). But it's Bryce Dallas Howard's close-minded character, Hilly Holbrook, who snubs her nose at their interracial bonds.
In real life, however, the 30-year-old actress says she can absolutely relate to having an "unexpected" relationship.
"My best friend in high school -- and it wasn’t an inappropriate relationship, I swear! -- was my English teacher," she tells iVillage exclusively. "He made a huge difference in my life. We would sit in his office and just talk about literature and ideas and all of that kind of stuff."
Howard -- who's mom to 4-year-old son Theo and is expecting her second child with husband Seth Gabel -- also dished to iVillage about what values she hopes to pass on to her children.
"Integrity is very important," says Howard, whose father is director Ron Howard. "Work ethic is important, particularly in my family. Being gracious, you know all of those kinds of things. And then I think above all knowing that anything is possible."
Watch our exclusive video to find out why Howard hates "cattiness" and why she avoided the high-school lunch room at all costs.