Laura Dern

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Laura Dern
Laura Dern, 2009
BornLaura Elizabeth Dern
(1967-02-10) February 10, 1967 (age 47)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActress, director, producer
Years active1973–present
Spouse(s)Ben Harper (m. 2005–13)
Jump to: navigation, search
Laura Dern
Laura Dern, 2009
BornLaura Elizabeth Dern
(1967-02-10) February 10, 1967 (age 47)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActress, director, producer
Years active1973–present
Spouse(s)Ben Harper (m. 2005–13)

Laura Elizabeth Dern (born February 10, 1967) is an American actress, film director, and producer. Dern has acted in such films as Mask and Smooth Talk (1985), Blue Velvet (1986), Fat Man and Little Boy (1988), Wild at Heart (1990), Jurassic Park (1993), The Baby Dance (1998), October Sky (1999), and I Am Sam (2001). She has won awards for her performance in the 1991 film Rambling Rose, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She was awarded a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film for her portrayal of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the film Recount (2008). From 2011 to 2013, Dern starred as Amy Jellicoe in HBO’s Enlightened. For this role, she won the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy.

Early life[edit]

Dern was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, and great-granddaughter of former Utah governor and Secretary of War, George Dern. 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.[1] Speaking with Back Stage West again in 2004, Dern would expand upon her earlier comments;[2] most recently, Dern thanked Seacat in her acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Television Series at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012.[3]

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 blockbuster Jurassic Park. That same year, Clint Eastwood enlisted the actress for his film A Perfect World. She also starred as Ruth in the 1996 satire 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 actor 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 was part of the ensemble dramedy Happy Endings in 2005, and she appeared in the 2006 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[4] 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."[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Dern with then-husband Ben Harper in December 2009

Political views[edit]

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.

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!"[9]

Relationships and family[edit]

Dern has had high-profile romances with Kyle MacLachlan, Nicolas Cage, Renny Harlin, Jeff Goldblum, and Billy Bob Thornton [10]

Dern began dating musician Ben Harper after they met at one of his concerts in fall 2000.[10] Harper and Dern married on December 23, 2005 at their home in Los Angeles.[11] They have two children together, son Ellery Walker (born August 2001)[10] and daughter Jaya (born November 2004).[12] Through this marriage, Dern also became a stepmother to Harper's children from his first marriage, his son Charles and daughter Harris.[10] In October 2010, Harper filed for divorce from Dern, citing irreconcilable differences.[13] They briefly reconciled and attended the 2012 Golden Globe Awards together,[13] but Dern reactivated the divorce by filing a legal response in July 2012.[13] The divorce was finalized in September 2013.[14]



1973White LightningSharon Anne
1974Alice Doesn't Live Here AnymoreGirl Eating Ice Cream Cone
1982Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous StainsJessica McNeil
1983Happy EndingsAudrey ConstantineTelevision movie
1984Three Wishes of Billy Grier, TheThe Three Wishes of Billy GrierCrissyTelevision movie
1984TeachersDiane Warren
1985MaskDiana Adams
1985Smooth TalkConnie Wyatt
1986Blue VelvetSandy Williams
1987Grizzly II: The PredatorTinaUnreleased sequel to Grizzly
1988Haunted SummerClaire Clairmont
1989Fat Man and Little BoyKathleen Robinson
1990Wild at HeartLula Fortune
1990Industrial Symphony No. 1Heartbroken WomanTelevision movie
1991Rambling RoseRose
1992AfterburnJanet HarduvelTelevision movie
1993Jurassic ParkDr. Ellie Sattler
1993Perfect World, AA Perfect WorldSally Gerber
1995Down Came a BlackbirdHelen McNultyTelevision movie
1996Citizen RuthRuth Stoops
1996Bastard Out of CarolinaNarrator (voice)
1996Siege at Ruby Ridge, TheThe Siege at Ruby RidgeVicki WeaverTelevision movie
1998Baby Dance, TheThe Baby DanceWanda LeFauveTelevision movie
1999Season for Miracles, AA Season for MiraclesBerry ThompsonTelevision movie
1999October SkyMiss Riley
2000Dr. T & the WomenPeggy
2001Daddy and ThemRuby Montgomery
2001Within These WallsSister Pauline QuinnTelevision movie
2001Jurassic Park IIIDr. Ellie Sattler
2001NovocaineJean Noble
2001FocusGertrude 'Gert' Hart
2001I Am SamRandy Carpenter
2002GooseNarrator (voice)Video short
2002Damaged CareLinda PeenoTelevision movie
2004We Don't Live Here AnymoreTerry Linden
2005Happy EndingsPam Ferris
2005Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, TheThe Prize Winner of Defiance, OhioDortha Schaefer
2006Lonely HeartsRene Fodie
2006Inland EmpireNikki Grace / Susan Blue
2007Year of the DogBret
2007More Things That HappenedSusan BlueVideo
2008RecountKatherine HarrisTelevision movie
2008Monday Before Thanksgiving, TheThe Monday Before ThanksgivingTheresaShort film
2009TendernessAunt Teresa
2010Everything Must GoDelilah
2010Little FockersPrudence
2011Fight for Your Right RevisitedCafé PatronShort film
2012Master, TheThe MasterHelen Sullivan
2014The Fault in Our StarsFrannie Lancaster
2014When the Game Stands TallBeverly LadouceurPost-production
2014WildBobbi LambrechtFilming
201499 HomesLynn NashPost-production
2014Mothers DayPre-production


1981ShannonEpisode: "Gotham Swansong"
1989Nightmare ClassicsRebeccaEpisode: "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
1993Fallen AngelsAnnie AinsleyEpisode: "Murder, Obliquely"
1995FrasierJune (voice)Episode: "Sleeping with the Enemy"
1997EllenSusan2 episodes
2002West Wing, TheThe West WingUS Poet Laureate Tabatha FortisEpisode: "The U.S. Poet Laureate"
2002King of the HillServing Wench (voice)Episode: "Joust Like a Woman"
2003King of the HillKatherine (voice)Episode: "Patch Boomhauer"
2011–2013EnlightenedAmy Jellicoe18 episodes
2013Call Me Crazy: A Five FilmDirector
2014Drunk HistoryNellie Blye

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ Jamie Painter Young: "Profile: Defining Moments," Back Stage West, November 22–28, 2001, pp. 6-7. "Dern: Through studying and through being raised on movie sets, I was surrounded by a lot of people who believed that the more tortured the person, the greater the artist. I always had a hard time understanding that, but thought, I guess that's the way it is... Luckily through life and the gift of the acting teacher who's changed my life in so many ways since 1984--her name is Sandra Seacat--I learned there's another opinion, which is: the better the person, the better the artist. The more true you are to who you are and the more honest you are as an individual, the more honest you can be as an actor, and I'm really liking that. BSW: Do you still study acting? Dern: I still study with Sandra and I love studying."
  2. ^ Jenelle Riley: "Living Out Loud," Back Stage West, August 16, 2004 (scroll all the way down - Dern's next-to-last comment)
  3. ^ "Laura Dern's 2012 Golden Globes acceptance speech for Best Actress". 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
  4. ^ "Movie Reviews, Articles, Trailers, and more at Metacritic". Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  5. ^ Associated Press (2007-04-23). "Ellen and Laura Dern reunite after kiss". Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  6. ^ "Enlightened: Homepage". HBO. Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  7. ^ "HBO's 'Enlightened' Take On Modern Meditation", Fresh Air interview with Dern and White on NPR, October 10, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  8. ^ "Laura Dern, Amy Adams and Others Join P.T. Anderson's 'The Master'". 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  9. ^ "Laura Dern Goes Political at the Golden Globes". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  10. ^ a b c d Miller, Samantha (February 4, 2002). "Dern Happy". People. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Actress Laura Dern Marries Ben Harper". People. December 23, 2005. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Laura Dern gives birth to a daughter". Today. November 2004. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Johnson, Zach (July 9, 2012). "Laura Dern Reactivates Dormant Divorce From Ben Harper". Us Weekly. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Laura Dern, Ben Harper Divorce Is Finalized". Huffington Post. September 11, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]