Laura Dern

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Laura Dern
Laura Dern Deauville 2017.jpg
Laura Elizabeth Dern

(1967-02-10) February 10, 1967 (age 52)
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActress, activist, director, producer
Years active1973–present
Ben Harper
(m. 2005;div. 2013)
Parent(s) Bruce Dern
Diane Ladd
Awards Full list

Laura Elizabeth Dern (born February 10, 1967) [1] [2] [3] is an American actress. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including four Golden Globe Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards.

The Primetime Emmy Award is an American award bestowed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) in recognition of excellence in American primetime television programming. First given out in 1949, the award was originally referred to as simply the "Emmy Awards" until the first Daytime Emmy Award ceremony was held in 1974 and the word "prime time" was added to distinguish between the two.

Academy Awards American awards given annually for excellence in cinematic achievements

The Academy Awards, also officially and popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more commonly referred to by its nickname "Oscar".


Born to actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, Dern began a full-time acting career in the 1980s with roles in the dramas Foxes (1980) and Mask (1985). She went on to collaborate with David Lynch in several films, including Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990) and Inland Empire (2006), as well as the television revival of Twin Peaks (2017). [4] [5] Dern received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing the titular orphan in Rambling Rose (1991) and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for the 1992 film Afterburn . She received international recognition with her role in the adventure film Jurassic Park (1993). In 1997, Dern guest-starred in the "Puppy Episode" of the sitcom Ellen , in which Ellen DeGeneres publicly came out.

Bruce Dern American actor

Bruce MacLeish Dern is an American actor, often playing supporting villainous characters of unstable nature. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Coming Home (1978) and the Academy Award for Best Actor for Nebraska (2013). His other film appearances include The Cowboys (1972), Family Plot (1976), Black Sunday (1977), Monster (2003), and The Hateful Eight (2015).

Diane Ladd American actress

Diane Ladd is an American actress, film director, producer and author. She has appeared in over 120 film and television roles. For the 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television for Alice (1980–81), and to receive Academy Award nominations for Wild at Heart (1990) and Rambling Rose (1991). Her other film appearances include Chinatown (1974), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), Primary Colors (1998), 28 Days (2000), and American Cowslip (2008). Ladd is the mother of actress Laura Dern, with her ex-husband, actor Bruce Dern.

<i>Foxes</i> (film) 1980 drama film by Adrian Lyne

Foxes is a 1980 American coming of age drama film directed by Adrian Lyne from a screenplay written by Gerald Ayres. The film stars Jodie Foster, Scott Baio, Sally Kellerman, Randy Quaid, and Cherie Currie. It revolves around a group of teenage girls coming of age in suburban Los Angeles toward the end of the disco era.

Following roles in such films as Citizen Ruth (1997), October Sky (1999), and I Am Sam (2001), Dern won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television for portraying Katherine Harris in the television film Recount (2008) and the 2012 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series for her role as Amy Jellicoe in the HBO series Enlightened (2011–2013). Dern continued to take on supporting roles in several successful films, including The Master (2012), The Fault in Our Stars (2014), and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017); and she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the biopic Wild (2014). Dern won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie and received another Golden Globe for her role as Renata Klein in the HBO series Big Little Lies (2017–present).

<i>Citizen Ruth</i> 1996 film by Alexander Payne

Citizen Ruth is a 1996 comedy film written by Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne. The film is the directorial debut of Payne. It stars Laura Dern in the title role of a poor, irresponsible and pregnant woman who unexpectedly attracts attention from those involved in the abortion debate.

<i>October Sky</i> 1999 film by Joe Johnston

October Sky is a 1999 American biographical drama film directed by Joe Johnston, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Chris Owen, and Laura Dern. It is based on the true story of Homer H. Hickam, Jr., a coal miner's son who was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 to take up rocketry against his father's wishes and eventually became a NASA engineer.

<i>I Am Sam</i> 2001 drama film by Jessie Nelson

I Am Sam is a 2001 American drama film written and directed by Jessie Nelson, and starring Sean Penn as a father with an intellectual disability, Dakota Fanning as his bright and inquisitive daughter, and Michelle Pfeiffer as his lawyer. Dianne Wiest, Loretta Devine, Richard Schiff, and Laura Dern appear in supporting roles.

Dern is an activist for raising awareness about toxic substances that can affect children's health. She is also a supporter of various charities and an activist for Down syndrome awareness.

Down syndrome chromosomal disease characterized by flat-looking facial features and weak muscle tone (hypotonia) in infancy and is caused by trisomy of all or a critical portion of chromosome 21 and is associated with intellectual disability

Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features. The average IQ of a young adult with Down syndrome is 50, equivalent to the mental ability of an 8- or 9-year-old child, but this can vary widely.

Early life

Dern was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of actors Diane Ladd and 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 . [1] The poet, writer, and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish was her great-great-uncle.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of nearly four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Utah A state of the United States of America

Utah is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 30th-most-populous, and 11th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of more than 3 million according to the Census estimate for July 1, 2016. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which contains approximately 2.5 million people; and Washington County in Southern Utah, with over 160,000 residents. Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.

After her parents' divorce when she was two years old, Dern was largely brought up by her mother and grandmother. [6] She was raised Roman Catholic. [6]


Laura Dern's film debut was an appearance 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. However, Laura Dern claims the emancipation was done solely for professional reasons and that both of her parents supported her in this. By being emancipated, she was able to play more adult roles and work longer hours. In 1982, she became the youngest-ever winner of Miss Golden Globe.

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 roles in Inland Empire and Twin Peaks

Dern also auditioned for the iconic character Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), but lost the role due to studio's skepticism about her bankability. In 1992, she 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.

Dern in 2009 at a ceremony for Mary Steenburgen to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. LauraDernDec09.jpg
Dern in 2009 at a ceremony for Mary Steenburgen to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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 .

Dern at TIFF 2014 Laura Dern at TIFF 2014.jpg
Dern at TIFF 2014

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 [7] 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." [8]

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 earn 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 . [9] Dern played 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. [10] Dern received her third Golden Globe for her role in the series.

Dern appeared in Paul Thomas Anderson's 2012 film The Master , along with Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman. [11] Dern appeared in Jean-Marc Vallée's 2014 film Wild alongside Reese Witherspoon, for which she received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination.

In 2017, Dern reteamed with both Witherspoon and Vallée for the 2017 HBO miniseries Big Little Lies , winning her first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her portrayal of Renata Klein. That year, Dern also appeared in David Lynch's revival of Twin Peaks for Showtime as Diane Evans and in Rian Johnson's blockbuster Star Wars: The Last Jedi as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. [12]

In 2018, Dern had the lead role in The Tale , an autobiographical feature film written and directed by Jennifer Fox. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 and later on HBO on May 26, 2018. In August 2018, Dern was cast as Marmee March in Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Little Women which will star Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper. [13]

Personal life

Political views and activism

Dern is an activist and supporter of various charities, such as Healthy Child Healthy World, which aims to raise awareness about toxic substances that can affect a child's health. She advocated for Down syndrome awareness in a cover story for Ability Magazine . [14]

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!" [15]

In 2018, she brought activist Mónica Ramírez to the 75th Golden Globe Awards as a guest. [16]

Relationships and family

Dern with then-husband Ben Harper in December 2009 BenHarperLauraDernDec09.jpg
Dern with then-husband Ben Harper in December 2009

Dern began dating musician Ben Harper after they met at one of his concerts in fall 2000. [17] Harper and Dern married on December 23, 2005, at their home in Los Angeles. [18] They have two children together, son Ellery Walker (born August 21, 2001) [17] and daughter Jaya (born November 28, 2004). [19] Through this marriage, Dern also became a stepmother to Harper's children from his first marriage, his son Charles and daughter Harris. [17] In October 2010, Harper filed for divorce from Dern, citing irreconcilable differences. [20] They briefly reconciled and attended the 2012 Golden Globe Awards together, [20] but Dern reactivated the divorce by filing a legal response in July 2012. [20] The divorce was finalized in September 2013. [21]

Dern has also had romances with Kyle MacLachlan, Nicolas Cage, Baron Davis, Renny Harlin, Jeff Goldblum, and Billy Bob Thornton. [17]

On October 18, 2017, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal, Dern appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and revealed that she had been sexually assaulted at age 14. [22]



1973 White Lightning Sharon Anne Joseph Sargent Uncredited
1974 Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore Girl Eating Ice Cream Cone Martin Scorsese Uncredited
1980 Foxes Debbie Adrian Lyne
1982 Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains Jessica McNeil Lou Adler
1984 Teachers Diane Warren Arthur Hiller
1985 Mask Diana Adams Peter Bogdanovich
Smooth Talk Connie Wyatt Joyce Chopra
1986 Blue Velvet Sandy Williams David Lynch
1987 Grizzly II: The Predator TinaAndré 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
Industrial Symphony No. 1 Heartbroken Woman David Lynch Concert film
1991 Rambling Rose Rose Martha Coolidge
1993 Jurassic Park Dr. Ellie Sattler Steven Spielberg
A Perfect World Sally Gerber Clint Eastwood
1996 Citizen Ruth Ruth Stoops Alexander Payne
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
Jurassic Park III Dr. Ellie Sattler Joe Johnston
Novocaine Jean NobleDavid Atkins
Focus Gertrude 'Gert' Hart Neal Slavin
I Am Sam Randy Carpenter Jessie Nelson
2002GooseNarrator (voice)Daniel IvanickShort film
2004 We Don't Live Here Anymore Terry Linden John Curran
2005 Happy Endings Pam Ferris Don Roos
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio Dortha Schaefer Jane Anderson
2006 Lonely Hearts Rene FodieTodd Robinson
Inland Empire Nikki Grace / Susan Blue David Lynch Also co-producer
2007 Year of the Dog Bret Mike White
2008The Monday Before ThanksgivingTheresa Courteney Cox Short film
2009 Tenderness Aunt Teresa John Polson
2010 Everything Must Go DelilahDan Rush
Little Fockers Prudence Paul Weitz
2011Fight for Your Right RevisitedCafé Patron Adam Yauch Short film
2012 The Master Helen Sullivan Paul Thomas Anderson
2014 The Fault in Our Stars Frannie Lancaster Josh Boone
When the Game Stands Tall Beverly Ladouceur Thomas Carter
Wild Bobbi Lambrecht Jean-Marc Vallée
99 Homes Lynn Nash Ramin Bahrani
2015 Bravetown AnnieDaniel Duran
2016 Certain Women Laura Wells Kelly Reichardt
The Founder Ethel Kroc John Lee Hancock
2017 Wilson Pippi Craig Johnson
The Good Time GirlsClementineCourtney HoffmanShort film
Downsizing Laura Lonowski Alexander Payne
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo Rian Johnson
2018 The Tale Jennifer Fox Jennifer Fox
Trial by Fire Elizabeth Gilbert Edward Zwick
JT LeRoy Laura Albert Justin Kelly
2019 Cold Pursuit Grace Coxman Hans Petter Moland
Untitled Noah Baumbach project Nora Fanshaw Noah Baumbach Post-production
Little Women Marmee March Greta Gerwig Post-production


1981 Shannon N/AEpisode: "Gotham Swansong"
1983Happy EndingsAudrey Constantine Television movie
1984 The Three Wishes of Billy Grier CrissyTelevision movie
1989 Nightmare Classics RebeccaEpisode: "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
1992 Afterburn Janet HarduvelTelevision movie
1993 Fallen Angels Annie AinsleyEpisode: "Murder, Obliquely"
1995 Frasier June (voice)Episode: "Sleeping with the Enemy"
Down Came a BlackbirdHelen McNultyTelevision movie; also executive producer
1996 The Siege at Ruby Ridge Vicki WeaverTelevision movie
1997 Ellen Susan2 episodes
1998 The Larry Sanders Show HerselfEpisode: "I Buried Sid"
The Baby DanceWanda LeFauveTelevision movie
2001Within These WallsSister Pauline QuinnTelevision movie
2002Damaged Care Linda Peeno Television movie; also co-producer
The West Wing US Poet Laureate Tabatha FortisEpisode: "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 Jellicoe18 episodes; also co-creator and executive producer
2013 Call Me Crazy: A Five Film N/ATelevision movie; as director (segment: "Grace")
2014 Kroll Show Cleo2 episodes
Drunk History Nellie Bly Episode: "New York City"
2015 The Mindy Project Dr. Ludmilla TrapeznikovEpisode: "Best Man"
2015–present F Is for Family Sue Murphy (voice)26 episodes
2017–present Big Little Lies Renata Klein7 episodes
2017 The Last Man on Earth CatherineEpisode: "Got Milk?"
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Wendy HebertEpisode: "Kimmy Can't Help You!"
Twin Peaks Diane Evans9 episodes

Awards and nominations

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