Laura Dern Biography: In Her Own Words – Video Exclusive, News, Photos
Laura Elizabeth Dern is an American actress best known for her roles in Rambling Rose, Enlightened and the Jurassic Park series. She currently stars on the HBO drama series Big Little Lies. In this biography, Dern tells her story in her own words.
Laura Dern Bio: Eary Life, Family, Education
Her sister Diane was born in 1961 but drowned a year later. This tragedy is believed to have driven Laura and Bruce to divorce in 1969, leaving Laura fatherless for years. Her mother and grandmother stepped in as Dern’s primary caregivers and raised her Roman Catholic. They also enrolled her in ballet lessons until she developed scoliosis at the age of ten and had to give up dancing.
Dern was bullied a fair amount throughout her school years. With famous parents heavily involved in the counterculture scene of the 1960s, she stood out among her peers, who teased her for her unusual height and “hippie” upbringing. Dern’s unconventional youth otherwise worked to her advantage, as her constant exposure to film and TV sets secured her a number of small roles as a child. She pursued acting more seriously at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, attending college for two days at UCLA and one semester at USC before prioritizing her career.
Laura Dern Bio: Early Acting Career
Following Dern’s childhood roles, she got her first big break in 1980, acting alongside Jodi Foster in the teen movie Foxes. Dern appeared in Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains four years later after suing for emancipation from her mother, who wanted Dern to live a normal life off of film sets.
The actress had other ideas. She appeared in Mask and Smooth Talk in 1985, rising steadily in Hollywood prominence throughout the 80s. In 1986, she landed a lead role in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet but did not star in another major project until Lynch’s 1990 Wild at Heart. The next year, Dern earned an Oscar nomination for her trademark role in Rambling Rose. Her mother, who co-starred as Mrs. Hillyer, was nominated as well.
Following Rambling Rose, Dern appeared in a number of small dramas, including the 1999 film October Sky and We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2004). In between, she famously starred as Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III (1993 and 2001, respectively). Dern also guest-starred on Ellen in 1994 as the woman to whom Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet.
Laura Dern Bio: Recent Acting Career, ‘Big Little Lies’
Dern has accomplished a good deal between her stint on Ellen and her critically acclaimed role in Big Little Lies. From 2005 to 2011, she appeared in two productions annually – with the exception of 2009, at which time she focused solely on the film Tenderness. Dern starred as Amy Jellicoe in the series Enlightened between 2011 and 2013 and later appeared in the movies The Fault in Our Stars and When the Game Stands Tall.
In recent years, Dern has appeared on TV shows such as Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She acted as Diane Evans in the 2017 sequel series to Twin Peaks, appearing in nine episodes. Between 2015 and 2018, Dern voiced Sue Murphy in the animated show F is for Family.
Currently, Dern stars in the HBO series Big Little Lies alongside Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley. The show has won four Golden Globe awards, including Dern’s own accolade for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.
Laura Dern Bio: Exclusive Interview on ‘Trial by Fire’ and Capital Punishment
One of Dern’s latest projects is the dramatic biography Trial by Fire. Directed by Edward Zwick and released in 2018, this film tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed under the death penalty in Texas 14 years prior. He was convicted of killing his children despite substantial evidence and testimony suggesting otherwise.
In May 2019, Dern sat down with uInterview for an exclusive interview about Trial by Fire. She began by discussing her character, Elizabeth, a teacher who investigated Willingham’s case while he sat on death row. “It’s an amazing thing to get to know two characters,” Dern said, “their connection, their availability to each other. Because the level of intimacy in what they shared was so profound, and we have to consider how high the stakes are.”
Dern went on the describe the sacrifice Elizabeth makes in giving herself to Willingham. She told uInterview, “To enter the world that he is in and the horror of the world that he is in – particularly as an innocent man – is so devastating that perhaps there’s nothing to lose but to be completely in your truth and therefore offer unconditional love to each other.”
Dern was unafraid to tackle the subject of the death penalty in her interview. “I will speak as an American who is horrified that it still exists,” she said, “and proud to be a Californian with a governor who has suspended the death penalty in our state.” She went on to address the dichotomy of state legislatures which preserve capital punishment adopting a “‘thou shalt not kill’” mentality when it comes to abortion. “I’m very confused why, then, the death penalty would not be abolished,” Dern told uInterview exclusively. “So I think we have to really get around our moral compass.”
Laura Dern Bio: Personal Life, Spouse, Children
She began dating musician Ben Harper in 2000 and married him five years later. Prior to their wedding, the couple had two children, Ellery Walker and Jaya. Dern later became the stepmother of Charles and Harris, Harper’s children from a previous marriage.
Harper filed for divorce in 2010, refiling two years later after a brief reconciliation with Dern at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards. The two have been officially divorced since September 2013.
Dern returned to the Ellen DeGeneres Show in October 2017 to discuss her past with sexual assault. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Dern revealed that she had been assaulted at the age of fourteen.
Laura Dern Bio: Quotes
“I’ve always gravitated towards playing women who don’t know they’re entitled to a voice, let alone how to find it. The ones who intrigue me most are those people who didn’t know they’re entitled to self-awareness, so that’s a very cool thing to explore. And I wish that for all women.”
“It’s really fun to act like a bimbo. But it’s fun to act like a bimbo only when people know that you really aren’t one.”
“Not a week goes by that I’m not approached by someone about Jurassic Park. That’s just something that people to love to talk about and continue to discover. I feel like I keep reliving it through all of these different children as they discover it. For me, I’ve been able to know the movie through the eyes of fans versus my own attachment to it.”