Dern at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival
|Born||Laura Elizabeth Dern
(1967-02-10) February 10, 1967
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, director, producer|
|Spouse(s)||Ben Harper (m. 2005; div. 2013)|
Laura Elizabeth Dern (born February 10, 1967) is an American actress. For her performance in the 1991 film Rambling Rose, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, while for her performance in the 2014 film Wild, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her other film roles include Mask (1985), Smooth Talk (1985), Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), Jurassic Park (1993), Citizen Ruth (1996), October Sky (1999), I Am Sam (2001), Inland Empire (2006), The Master (2012), The Fault in Our Stars (2014), and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).
Dern won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for the 1992 film Afterburn, and guest starred in the 1997 “Puppy Episode” of the sitcom Ellen. She went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television for her portrayal of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the 2008 TV film Recount, and the 2012 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series for her role as Amy Jellicoe in HBO’s Enlightened (2011–13). She is known for her collaborations with filmmaker David Lynch, having appeared in three of his films and the upcoming revival of Twin Peaks.
Dern was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of actress Diane Ladd and actor Bruce Dern, and great-granddaughter of former Utah governor and Secretary of War, George Dern; Dern was conceived while her parents were filming The Wild Angels. The poet, writer, and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish was her great-great-uncle.
Laura Dern’s film debut was a cameo in her mother’s film White Lightning (1973). She also made a brief appearance in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), one of Ladd’s signature roles. Her mother objected to her 13-year-old daughter’s presence on the set of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, but Dern sued for and received emancipation. In 1982, she became the youngest-ever winner of Miss Golden Globe.
Dern began working with acting coach Sandra Seacat in 1984. Dern would later attribute Seacat with a dramatic transformation in her life and work. Speaking with Back Stage West again in 2004, Dern would expand upon her earlier comments; most recently, Dern thanked Seacat in her acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Television Series at the 69th Golden Globe Awards in 2012.
Between 1985 and 1990, Dern gained critical acclaim for roles in Mask, Blue Velvet, and Wild at Heart. Dern’s starring role in Blue Velvet was a breakthrough though her next notable film, Wild at Heart, took almost four years to be released. Dern’s affiliation with David Lynch has continued with her role in Inland Empire.
In 1992, Dern and her mother became the first mother and daughter to be nominated for an Academy Award for acting in the same film in Rambling Rose although, unlike in Wild at Heart, they did not play mother and daughter in the film. Dern starred as Dr. Ellie Sattler in Steven Spielberg‘s 1993 film Jurassic Park. That same year, Clint Eastwood contacted the actress for his film A Perfect World. She also starred as Ruth in the 1996 film Citizen Ruth, the directorial debut of Alexander Payne. Dern’s mother makes a cameo appearance, playing Dern’s character’s mother, with Dern’s character screaming a torrent of abuse at her.
In 1997, Dern was featured in Widespread Panic‘s music video for their song, “Aunt Avis”, which was directed by Dern’s then boyfriend and future fiancé, Billy Bob Thornton. In 1998, Dern co-starred in Jodie Foster’s film The Baby Dance. While dating Thornton in 1999, she was cast as his love interest in his film Daddy and Them, which also includes Diane Ladd. Dern also appeared in Joe Johnston‘s film October Sky.
Robert Altman called upon Dern’s talents to play a Champagne-loving Aunt in his Texas-based comedy Dr. T & the Women in 2000. She co-starred in Within These Walls and Arthur Miller’s Focus. She had a minor role in Jurassic Park III, and was a supporting actress in the film I Am Sam. She starred in the 2002 film Damaged Care and the 2004 film We Don’t Live Here Anymore. Dern starred in the 2005 film Happy Endings, and in the same year, she appeared in the film The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.
In 2006, David Lynch and Dern reunited for Inland Empire and, also in 2006, Dern had a supporting role in Lonely Hearts. Mike White, known for writing School of Rock and The Good Girl, hired Dern for his directorial debut in 2007, the comedy titled Year of the Dog and starring Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, and Peter Sarsgaard. In 2008 Dern starred in Recount for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film. Since then, Dern was seen in the independent 2009 drama Tenderness and, in 2010, she appeared in Little Fockers, playing an advanced school principal who dated Owen Wilson‘s character Kevin Rawley.
Dern has done much work on television, most notably Afterburn, for which she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Movie. She guest-starred on The West Wing, was a voice on King of the Hill, and was a lesbian who coaxes Ellen DeGeneres out of the closet in the famous 1997 “The Puppy Episode” of the television series Ellen.
On the April 24, 2007, airing of DeGeneres’s talk show, Dern revealed she did not work for more than a year following her appearance in that episode because of resulting backlash, but nevertheless called it an “extraordinary experience and opportunity.”
Dern has been acknowledged with several awards from the independent film industry including the Sundance Institute and was the subject of an aggressive media campaign by David Lynch to win her an Academy Award nomination for her work in Inland Empire. On November 1, 2010, she received the 2,420th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her parents, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern, were also presented with stars.
In October 2011, Dern starred in a new HBO television series called Enlightened. Dern plays Amy Jellicoe, “a health and beauty executive who returns from a post-meltdown retreat to pick up the pieces of her broken life” with, among others, her mother, played by her real-life mother Ladd. Dern brought screenwriter Mike White back into television work after he had had an on-the-job meltdown of his own. Jellicoe’s Hawaiian retreat included introduction to meditation and the character tries to continue the discipline as she resumes her working life. Dern received her third Golden Globe for her role in the series.
Political views and activism
Dern is known as an activist and supporter of many charities, such as Healthy Child Healthy World, which aims to raise awareness about toxic substances that can affect a child’s health. She has shared her support for Down Syndrome awareness in a cover story for ABILITY Magazine.
During the 66th Golden Globe Awards, on January 11, 2009, Dern expressed support for the incoming administration of Barack Obama during her acceptance speech for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film for her work on the film Recount. She is quoted as saying, “I will cherish this as a reminder of the extraordinary, incredible outpouring of people who demanded their voice be heard in this last election so we can look forward to amazing change in this country. Thank you so much!”
Relationships and family
Dern began dating musician Ben Harper after they met at one of his concerts in fall 2000. Harper and Dern married on December 23, 2005, at their home in Los Angeles. They have two children together, son Ellery Walker (born August 21, 2001) and daughter Jaya (born November 28, 2004). Through this marriage, Dern also became a stepmother to Harper’s children from his first marriage, his son Charles and daughter Harris. In October 2010, Harper filed for divorce from Dern, citing irreconcilable differences. They briefly reconciled and attended the 2012 Golden Globe Awards together, but Dern reactivated the divorce by filing a legal response in July 2012. The divorce was finalized in September 2013.
|1973||White Lightning||Sharon Anne||Joseph Sargent||Uncredited|
|1974||Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore||Girl Eating Ice Cream Cone||Martin Scorsese||Uncredited|
|1982||Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains||Jessica McNeil||Lou Adler|
|1984||Teachers||Diane Warren||Arthur Hiller|
|1985||Mask||Diana Adams||Peter Bogdanovich|
|1985||Smooth Talk||Connie Wyatt||Joyce Chopra|
|1986||Blue Velvet||Sandy Williams||David Lynch|
|1987||Grizzly II: The Predator||Tina||André Szöts|
|1988||Haunted Summer||Claire Clairmont||Ivan Passer|
|1989||Fat Man and Little Boy||Kathleen Robinson||Roland Joffé|
|1990||Wild at Heart||Lula Fortune||David Lynch|
|1991||Rambling Rose||Rose||Martha Coolidge|
|1993||Jurassic Park||Dr. Ellie Sattler||Steven Spielberg|
|1993||A Perfect World||Sally Gerber||Clint Eastwood|
|1996||Citizen Ruth||Ruth Stoops||Alexander Payne|
|1996||Bastard Out of Carolina||Narrator (voice)||Anjelica Huston|
|1999||October Sky||Miss Riley||Joe Johnston|
|2000||Dr. T & the Women||Peggy||Robert Altman|
|2001||Daddy and Them||Ruby Montgomery||Billy Bob Thornton|
|2001||Jurassic Park III||Dr. Ellie Degler||Joe Johnston||Cameo|
|2001||Focus||Gertrude ‘Gert’ Hart||Neal Slavin|
|2001||I Am Sam||Randy Carpenter||Jessie Nelson|
|2002||Goose||Narrator (voice)||Daniel Ivanick||Short film|
|2004||We Don’t Live Here Anymore||Terry Linden||John Curran|
|2005||Happy Endings||Pam Ferris||Don Roos|
|2005||The Prize Winner of Defiance||Dortha Schaefer||Jane Anderson|
|2006||Lonely Hearts||Rene Fodie||Todd Robinson|
|2006||Inland Empire||Nikki Grace / Susan Blue||David Lynch||Also co-producer|
|2007||Year of the Dog||Bret||Mike White|
|2008||The Monday Before Thanksgiving||Theresa||Courtney Cox||Short film|
|2009||Tenderness||Aunt Teresa||John Polson|
|2010||Everything Must Go||Delilah||Dan Rush|
|2010||Little Fockers||Prudence||Paul Weitz|
|2011||Fight for Your Right Revisited||Café Patron||Adam Yauch||Short film|
|2012||The Master||Helen Sullivan||Paul Thomas Anderson|
|2014||The Fault in Our Stars||Frannie Lancaster||Josh Boone|
|2014||When the Game Stands Tall||Beverly Ladouceur||Thomas Carter|
|2014||Wild||Bobbi Lambrecht||Jean-Marc Vallée|
|2014||99 Homes||Lynn Nash||Ramin Bahrani|
|2016||Certain Women||Laura Wells||Kelly Reichardt|
|2016||The Founder||Ethel Fleming||John Lee Hancock|
|2017||Star Wars: The Last Jedi||TBA||Rian Johnson||Post-production|
|1981||Shannon||N/A||Episode: “Gotham Swansong”|
|1983||Happy Endings||Audrey Constantine||Television movie|
|1984||The Three Wishes of Billy Grier||Crissy||Television movie|
|1989||Nightmare Classics||Rebecca||Episode: “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”|
|1990||Industrial Symphony No. 1||Heartbroken Woman||Television movie|
|1992||Afterburn||Janet Harduvel||Television movie|
|1993||Fallen Angels||Annie Ainsley||Episode: “Murder, Obliquely”|
|1995||Frasier||June (voice)||Episode: “Sleeping with the Enemy”|
|1995||Down Came a Blackbird||Helen McNulty||Television movie; also executive producer|
|1996||The Siege at Ruby Ridge||Vicki Weaver||Television movie|
|1998||The Larry Sanders Show||Herself||Episode: “I Buried Sid”|
|1998||The Baby Dance||Wanda LeFauve||Television movie|
|1999||A Season for Miracles||Berry Thompson||Television movie|
|2001||Within These Walls||Sister Pauline Quinn||Television movie|
|2002||Damaged Care||Linda Peeno||Television movie; also co-producer|
|2002||The West Wing||US Poet Laureate Tabatha Fortis||Episode: “The U.S. Poet Laureate“|
|2002–2003||King of the Hill||Serving Wench / Katherine (voices)||2 episodes|
|2008||Recount||Katherine Harris||Television movie|
|2011–2013||Enlightened||Amy Jellicoe||18 episodes; also co-creator and executive producer|
|2013||Call Me Crazy: A Five Film||N/A||Television movie; as director (segment: “Grace”)|
|2014||Kroll Show||Cleo||2 episodes|
|2014||Drunk History||Nellie Bly||Episode: “New York City”|
|2015||The Mindy Project||Dr. Ludmilla Trapeznikov||Episode: “Best Man”|
|2015–present||F Is for Family||Sue Murphy (voice)||6 episodes|
|2017||Big Little Lies||Renata Klein||7 episodes|
|2017||The Last Man on Earth||Catherine||Episode: “Got Milk”|