Oscar Actors: Dern, Laura–Background, Career, Awards (Cumulative Advantage, Emmy)

Updated July 1, 2020
Laura Dern Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: Yes; both parents are actors

Social Class: middle

Race/Ethnicity/Religion

Family:

Education:

Training: child actor; Alice Doesn’t, 1974; aged

Teacher/Inspirational Figure: Shelley Winters, godmother

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut: 1973; aged 6

Breakthrough Role: Mask, 1985, aged 18; Blue Velvet; 1986; aged 19

Oscar Role: Marriage Story, 2019; aged 53

Other Noms: Rambling Rose, 1991; aged 24

Other Awards: Emmy; Globe

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image: lead and character actor

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span:

Marriage:

Politics:

Death: NA

 

Laura Dern, the daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, is an accomplished American film and television actress, honored with numerous accolades.

Born in 1967, she began her career as a child actress in some high-profile movies, such as Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore in 1974. Her mother appeared in that movie, for which she was nominated for the best Supporting Actress Oscar.

Dern’s competitive honors include three Oscar nominations, one win (Best Supporting Actress), Primetime Emmy Award win from six nominations, and four Golden Globe Award wins from six nominations.

Oscar Nominations: 3

1991: Best Actress, Rambling Rose; the winner was Jodie Foster

2014: Best Supporting Actress, Wild

2019: Best Supporting Actress, Marriage Story; won

Born on February 10, 1967 to actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, Dern embarked on an acting career in the 1980s and rose to prominence for her performances in Mask (1985) and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) and Wild at Heart (1990).

In 1985, Dern won the Next Generation Award from the L.A. Film Critics Association for two films: “Mask” and “Rambling Rose.”

She then received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of the titular orphan in the drama film Rambling Rose (1991).

She achieved international recognition for her role in Spielberg’s adventure “Jurassic Park” (1993), after which she guest starred in the “Puppy Episode” of the sitcom Ellen in 1997, during which Ellen DeGeneres publicly came out.

After winning two Golden Globes for her performances as Katherine Harris in the television film Recount (2008) and Amy Jellicoe in the comedy-drama series Enlightened (2011–2013), Dern earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for “Wild” (2014).

Emmy Award

In 2017, she starred as Renata Klein in the drama series Big Little Lies, winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film, 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 a fifth Golden Globe and her first Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

After her parents divorced when she was 2, Dern was brought up by her mother and grandmother. She was raised as a Catholic.  godmother was actress Shelley Winters.

First Films: Child Actress

Her first film was as an extra in White Lightning (1973), a film in which her mother starred. Her official film debut was an appearance in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974),” opposite her mother.

In 1982, Dern served as Miss Golden Globe at 15 years old. In the same year, she portrayed a rebellious rock band member in the cult film Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. At 16, she sought for and attained emancipation, which allowed her to work the amount of hours of an adult.

Between 1985 and 1990, Dern gained critical acclaim for her performances in Mask, Blue Velvet, and Wild at Heart–the latter two directed by David Lynch–which began a longstanding collaboration between Dern and Lynch. Dern’s starring role in Blue Velvet was widely regarded as her breakthrough performance.

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 level of fame.

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.

Dern starred as Dr. Ellie Sattler in 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.

In 1997, Dern was featured in Widespread Panic’s music video for their song, “Aunt Avis”, which was directed by Dern’s 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 cast her as 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 Happy Endings, and in the same year, she appeared in the film The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.

 

Detailed Bio:
Laura Elizabeth Dern was born on February 10, 1967, 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, she was conceived while her parents were filming The Wild Angels. 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.

She was raised a Catholic.

Her godmother was actress Shelley Winters.

She developed scoliosis as a child.

Her first film foray was an appearance as an extra in White Lightning (1973), a film in which her mother starred. Her official film debut was an appearance in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), opposite her mother.

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 and attained emancipation,[13] which allowed her to work the amount of hours of an adult on films.[8]

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.

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 fame level at the time.

In 1992, Dern and her mother, Ladd, became the first mother and daughter to be nominated for acting Oscars in the same film for their work in Rambling Rose: Ladd received Best Supporting Actress nomination, while Dern received Best Actress.

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.

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 cast her in 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.

Helping Ellen DeGeneres Come Out

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.

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.

The following year, Dern was seen in the indie drama Tenderness, and in 2010, she appeared in Little Fockers, portraying Prudence, an elementary school principal.

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. 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. Dern received her third Golden Globe Award for her performance in the series.

In 2012, Dern starred in Paul Thomas Anderson’s psychological drama film The Master, alongside Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams.

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.

In 2018, Dern portrayed a lead in The Tale, an autobiographical 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 2019, Dern appeared in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story alongside Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.

She portrayed Marmee March in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women, which also stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper.

For her performance in Marriage Story, Dern earned Best Supporting Actress Oscar, 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.

Dern will reprise her role as Ellie Sattler in Jurassic World: Dominion, set for a 2022 release.

She will star alongside Hugh Jackman in Florian Zeller’s adaptation of his stage play, The Son. Dern will star in science fiction drama film Morning directed by Justin Kurzel.

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, son Ellery Walker (born August 21, 2001) and daughter Jaya (born November 2004). Through this marriage, Dern also became stepmother to Harper’s children from his first marriage, his son Charles and daughter Harris. The two divorced in 2013.

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.

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!”

An activist and supporter of various charities, Dern advocated Down syndrome awareness in a cover story for Ability Magazine. In 2018, Dern brought activist Mónica Ramírez to the 75th Golden Globe Awards as a guest.

In the same year, she attended a Families Belong Together event and expressed her support for immigrants’ rights.

She is also an advocate for women’s rights, gender pay parity, combating gun violence and climate change.

In 2019, she became a board member of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Filmography (First 4 films)

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