Laura Dern

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Laura Dern
Laura Dern Deauville 2017.jpg
Laura Elizabeth Dern

(1967-02-10) February 10, 1967 (age 54)
  • Actress
  • director
  • producer
Years active1973–present
(m. 2005; div. 2013)
RelativesGeorge Dern (great-grandfather)
AwardsFull list
Laura Dern signature.svg

Laura Elizabeth Dern (born February 10, 1967) is an American actress and filmmaker. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and five Golden Globe Awards. Born to actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, Dern embarked on an acting career in the 1980s and rose to some prominence for her performances in Mask (1985) and David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) and Wild at Heart (1990). She received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of the titular orphan in the drama film Rambling Rose (1991) and achieved international recognition for her role in Steven Spielberg's adventure film Jurassic Park (1993), a role that she reprised in the 2001 sequel Jurassic Park III.

After winning two Golden Globe Awards for her performances as Katherine Harris in the television film Recount (2008) and Amy Jellicoe in the comedy-drama series Enlightened (2011–2013), Dern garnered her second Academy Award nomination for her work in the biopic Wild (2014). In 2017, she began starring as Renata Klein in the drama series Big Little Lies, winning a Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award, and reunited with David Lynch for Twin Peaks: The Return. She has since played supporting roles in the films Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), Marriage Story (2019), and Little Women (2019). Her performance in Marriage Story won her an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award, both for Best Supporting Actress.

Early life[edit]

Laura Elizabeth Dern was born on February 10, 1967, in Los Angeles, California.[1][2][3][4] The daughter of actors Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern, and great-granddaughter of former Utah governor and Secretary of War George Dern, she was conceived while her parents were filming The Wild Angels.[2] Poet, writer, and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish was her great-great-uncle. After her parents divorced when she was two years old, Dern was largely brought up by her mother and maternal grandmother, who had Norwegian ancestry, from Oslo.[5] She was raised a Catholic.[5] Her godmother was actress Shelley Winters.[6] She developed scoliosis as a child.[7]

Her first film foray was an appearance as an extra in White Lightning (1973), a film in which her mother starred.[8] Her official film debut was an appearance in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), opposite her mother.[9] In 1982, Dern served as Miss Golden Globe at 15 years old.[10] In the same year, she portrayed a rebellious rock band member in the cult film Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.[11] At 16,[12] she sought for and attained emancipation,[13] which allowed her to work the amount of hours of an adult on films.[8]


1980–1999: Career beginnings and breakthrough[edit]

Between 1985 and 1990, Dern gained critical acclaim for her performances in Mask, Blue Velvet, and Wild at Heart–the latter two of which were directed by David Lynch–which began a longstanding collaboration between Dern and Lynch.[14] Dern's starring role in Blue Velvet was widely regarded as her breakthrough performance.[15][16] Dern also auditioned for the iconic role of Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), but lost the role due to studio's skepticism about her level of fame at the time.[17][18] In 1992, Dern and her mother, Ladd, became the first mother and daughter to be nominated for Academy Awards for acting in the same film for their performances in Rambling Rose–Ladd received a Best Supporting Actress nomination, while Dern received one for Best Actress.[19] The following year, she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for her performance in the 1992 television film Afterburn.[20]

Dern starred as Dr. Ellie Sattler in Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park, achieving international recognition with the role.[21] That same year, Clint Eastwood contacted the actress for his film A Perfect World. She starred in Alexander Payne's directorial debut film Citizen Ruth. Dern's mother made a cameo appearance, playing Dern's character's mother, with Dern's character screaming a torrent of abuse at her. In 1997, Dern guest-starred as a lesbian who helps Ellen DeGeneres come out of the closet in "The Puppy Episode" of the sitcom Ellen. In an April 2007 airing of DeGeneres's talk show, Dern revealed that she did not work for more than a year and that she needed a "full security detail" following her appearance in the episode due to the resulting backlash but nevertheless called it an "extraordinary experience and opportunity."[21][22] The following year, Dern co-starred in the television film The Baby Dance, for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film. 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.

2000–2011: Further film and television career[edit]

Dern at Civic Center Park in 2008

In 2000, Robert Altman called upon Dern's talents to play a champagne-loving aunt in his Texas-based comedy Dr. T & the Women. 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, Dern reunited with David Lynch for Inland Empire, and in the same year, Dern portrayed 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 as Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in Recount, for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.[23] The following year, Dern was seen in the independent drama Tenderness,[24] and in 2010, she appeared in Little Fockers, portraying Prudence, an elementary school principal.[25]

In November 2010, Dern and her parents were presented with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, becoming the first family to do so.[26] In October 2011, she starred in a new HBO television series titled Enlightened.[27] 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." Dern brought screenwriter Mike White back into television work after he had had an on-the-job meltdown of his own.[28] Dern received her third Golden Globe Award for her performance in the series.[29]

2012–present: Recent career and acclaim[edit]

In 2012, Dern starred in Paul Thomas Anderson's psychological drama film The Master, alongside Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams.[30] She co-starred alongside Reese Witherspoon in Jean-Marc Vallée's biographical drama film Wild, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. 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.[31] That same year, she appeared as Diane Evans in the third season of David Lynch's television series Twin Peaks and as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo in Rian Johnson's space opera film Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[32][33]

In 2018, Dern portrayed a 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.[34] In 2019, Dern appeared in Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story alongside Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver,[35] and portrayed Marmee March in Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Little Women, which also stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper.[36] For her performance in Marriage Story, Dern earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, the SAG Award for Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture.[37][38][39]

Dern will reprise her role as Ellie Sattler in Jurassic World: Dominion, which is set for a 2022 release.[40] She is set to star alongside Hugh Jackman in Florian Zeller's adaptation of his stage play, The Son.[41]

Personal life[edit]

Relationships and family[edit]

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.[42] Harper and Dern married on December 23, 2005, at their home in Los Angeles.[43] They have two children together, son Ellery Walker (born August 21, 2001)[42] and daughter Jaya (born November 2004).[44] Through this marriage, Dern also became a stepmother to Harper's children from his first marriage, his son Charles and daughter Harris.[42] The two divorced in 2013.[45]

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.[46]

Political views and activism[edit]

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 her Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film win, stating: "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!"[47]

An activist and supporter of various charities, Dern advocated for Down syndrome awareness in a cover story for Ability Magazine.[48] In 2018, Dern brought activist Mónica Ramírez to the 75th Golden Globe Awards as a guest.[49] In the same year, she attended a Families Belong Together event and expressed her support for immigrants' rights.[50][51] She is also an advocate for women's rights,[52] gender pay parity,[53] as well as combating gun violence and climate change.[54] In 2019, she became a board member of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.[55]



Year Title Role Notes
1973 White Lightning Sharon Anne Uncredited
1974 Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore Girl Eating Ice Cream Cone Uncredited
1980 Foxes Debbie
1982 Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains Jessica McNeil
1983 Grizzly II: The Predator Tina
1984 Teachers Diane Warren
1985 Mask Diana Adams
1985 Smooth Talk Connie Wyatt
1986 Blue Velvet Sandy Williams
1988 Haunted Summer Claire Clairmont
1989 Fat Man and Little Boy Kathleen Robinson
1990 Wild at Heart Lula Fortune
1990 Industrial Symphony No. 1 Heartbroken Woman Concert film
1991 Rambling Rose Rose
1993 Jurassic Park Dr. Ellie Sattler
1993 A Perfect World Sally Gerber
1996 Citizen Ruth Ruth Stoops
1996 Bastard Out of Carolina Narrator (voice)
1999 October Sky Miss Riley
2000 Dr. T & the Women Peggy
2001 Daddy and Them Ruby Montgomery
2001 Jurassic Park III Dr. Ellie Sattler
2001 Focus Gertrude 'Gert' Hart
2001 I Am Sam Randy Carpenter
2001 Novocaine Jean Noble
2002 Goose Narrator (voice) Short film
2004 We Don't Live Here Anymore Terry Linden
2005 Happy Endings Pam Ferris
2005 The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio Dortha Schaefer
2006 Lonely Hearts Rene Fodie
2006 Inland Empire Nikki Grace / Susan Blue Also co-producer
2007 Year of the Dog Bret Spade
2008 The Monday Before Thanksgiving Theresa Short film
2009 Tenderness Aunt Teresa
2010 Everything Must Go Delilah
2010 Little Fockers Prudence Simmons
2011 Fight for Your Right Revisited Café Patron Short film
2012 The Master Helen Sullivan
2013 Jay-Z: Made in America Herself Documentary
2014 The Fault in Our Stars Frannie Lancaster
2014 When the Game Stands Tall Beverly Ladouceur
2014 Wild Bobbi Lambrecht
2014 99 Homes Lynn Nash
2015 Bravetown Annie
2016 Certain Women Laura Wells
2016 The Founder Ethel Kroc
2017 Wilson Pippi
2017 The Black Ghiandola Doctor Short film
2017 The Good Time Girls Clementine Short film
2017 Downsizing Laura Lonowski
2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo
2018 The Tale Jennifer Fox
2018 Trial by Fire Elizabeth Gilbert
2018 JT LeRoy Laura Albert
2019 Cold Pursuit Grace Coxman
2019 Marriage Story Nora Fanshaw
2019 Little Women Marmee March
2020 Crazy, Not Insane Narrator (voice) Documentary
2020 Grizzly II: Revenge Tina Cameo
2020 The Way I See It None Producer
2022 Jurassic World: Dominion Dr. Ellie Sattler Post-production
TBA The Son Kate Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1980 Insight Amy Episode: "Who Loves Amy Tonight?"
1981 Shannon Unknown Episode: "Gotham Swansong"
1983 Happy Endings Audrey Constantine Television film
1984 The Three Wishes of Billy Grier Crissy Television film
1989 Nightmare Classics Rebecca Episode: "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
1992 Afterburn Janet Harduvel Television film
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 film; also executive producer
1996 The Siege at Ruby Ridge Vicki Weaver Television film
1997 Ellen Susan 2 episodes
1998 The Larry Sanders Show Herself Episode: "I Buried Sid"
1998 The Baby Dance Wanda LeFauve Television film
2001 Within These Walls Sister Pauline Quinn Television film
2002 Damaged Care Linda Peeno Television film; 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 film
2011–2013 Enlightened Amy Jellicoe 18 episodes; also co-creator and executive producer
2013 Call Me Crazy: A Five Film None Television film; 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) 36 episodes
2017, 2019 Big Little Lies Renata Klein 14 episodes
2017 The Last Man on Earth Catherine Episode: "Got Milk?"
2017 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Wendy Hebert Episode: "Kimmy Can't Help You!"
2017 Twin Peaks Diane Evans 9 episodes

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ DIET, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS, LIFESTYLE AND HEALTH. BiblioGov. July 25, 2002. p. 33. ISBN 978-1983541629.
  2. ^ a b Harrington, Richard (September 14, 2007). "The Essential Roger Corman". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 12, 2016. Dern's real-life wife, Diane Ladd, playing the Loser's wife, became pregnant with daughter-actress Laura Dern during shooting.
  3. ^ Diamond, Jamie (August 25, 1992). "A Lifetime of con men and killers". Toledo Blade. Retrieved March 12, 2016. In 1967 I did a movie with Peter Fonda called The Trip... I had just had my daughter Laura
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  9. ^ Kempley, Rita (January 12, 1997). "Laura Dern's Liberal Lust". The Washington Post.
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  48. ^ "Laura Dern interview with Chet Cooper". Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  49. ^ CNWN Collection. "Golden Globes 2018: How to Support the Activists' Causes". Allure. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  50. ^ Romano, Nick (June 30, 2018). "'Families Belong Together' rallies draw celebrities to protest Trump's immigration policy". Entertainment Weekly.
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  52. ^ Brockington, Ariana (May 22, 2018). "Nina Shaw, Laura Dern Stress Importance of Intersectionality in Time's Up Movement". Variety. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  53. ^ Franklin, Ericka (April 30, 2019). "Laura Dern Promotes Gender Parity Across Industries at Women in Tech Code-a-Thon". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  54. ^ Tschorn, Adam (December 12, 2019). "2019 is Laura Dern's year. We're just living in it". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
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External links[edit]