Howard reunited with Shyamalan for Lady in the Water, in which she acts as Story, a type of water nymph called a narf. The 2006 fantasy film release also stars Paul Giamatti as the co-lead. Shyamalan's project follows the story of Giamatti's character rescuing what he thinks is a young woman (Howard) from his pool. Once he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to get back home, he teams up with his tenants to protect her from creatures that try to keep her in their world. It underperformed at the box office, falling short of its $75 million budget, and got largely negative reviews from critics. Next, she once again played Rosalind in Kenneth Branagh's 2006 film version of Shakespeare's As You Like It. It played in theatres in Europe before going directly to cable in the United States, premiering on HBO. Howard was nominated for a Golden Globe Award at the 2008 ceremony. The project got soundly negative reviews from the British media, while American reviewers gave it more favorable notice. That year, she wrote and directed a short film, Orchids, as part of Glamour magazine's "Reel Moments" series funded by Cartier and FilmAid International.