Feb. 10th, 1967
Los Angeles, California, USA
Laura Dern's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Laura Dern was born on February 10, 1967 into a moviemaking family - her father is Bruce Dern and her mother is Diane Ladd. Dern was exposed to movie sets and the movie industry from infancy, and obtained several bit parts as a child. Her parents divorced when Dern was two and Dern lost contact with her father for several years as a result.
Her parents' background and her own early taste of the moviemaking world soon convinced the young Dern to pursue acting herself. Like so many young actors, her decision may have been influenced by social awkwardness -- the child of 60s counterculture parents, she was steeped in Eastern mysticism and political radicalism, and was seen as an oddball by her more conservative classmates. Her gawky physical appearance didn't help - even before her teens, she had achieved most of her impressive 5' 10" height, was rail-skinny (other than precociously wide hips), had huge feet and a slouching posture, and for all this was often teased by classmates. Perhaps the nine-year-old Dern found refuge by studying acting at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute.
The first success for the young Dern came in 1980, with a role in Adrian Lyne's Foxes (1980), a teen movie starring Jodie Foster. She followed this with several small parts, or parts in small movies, such as Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1981) and Teachers (1984), as a student who has an affair with a teacher. (Her mother objected to her active presence on movie sets at age thirteen, which required Dern to sue for emancipation so she could play her role in "The Fabulous Stains"). Her next roles, as the blind girl who befriends the deformed boy in Mask (1985), and as a teenaged girl whose sexual awakening collides with a mysterious older man in Smooth Talk (1985), gave her career an important boost. Dern appeared to have made it with a leading role in David Lynch (I)'s acclaimed Blue Velvet (1986), but it was four years before her next notable film, and this was the bizarre Wild at Heart (1990), also directed by Lynch.
The following year, Dern starred in Rambling Rose (1991), which would become her signature performance, as a sexually-precocious, free-spirited young housemaid in the South in the 1930s. Dern earned an Oscar nomination for her performance, and so did her mother and co-star, Diane Ladd. Dern continues to win prominent roles on the big screen, often in smaller, highly-regarded human dramas such as October Sky (1999), I Am Sam (2001) and We Don't Live Here Anymore (2004), although she is perhaps most widely known for her repeat role as Ellie Sattler in the summer adventure movies Jurassic Park (1993) and Jurassic Park III (2001), or for her guest performance on "Ellen" (1994), as the woman to whom Ellen finally comes out as a lesbian.
Dern's pre-teen gawkiness matured into lithe beauty, but this doesn't prevent Dern from fearlessly throwing herself into a wide variety of roles which are sometimes unflattering, an excellent example being her unflinchingly comic portrayal of an intensely annoying loser whose pregnancy becomes a social and political football in Citizen Ruth (1996). This results in Dern being one of the most interesting actors working in Hollywood today.
Having previously dated such Hollywood talent as Treat Williams, Renny Harlin, Kyle MacLachlan, Jeff Goldblum and Billy Bob Thornton, Dern eventually married musician Ben Harper (II) in 2005. Early in her career, Dern was roommate to Marianne Williamson, the spirituality guru. Dern attended two days of college at UCLA and one semester at USC.
- Godmother is 'Shelley Winters' (qv).
- Once engaged to 'Billy Bob Thornton' (qv).
- Had an elder sister, born in 1961, who drowned at the age of 18 months, years before Laura was born.
- She said that her idols are 'Katharine Hepburn' (qv), 'Barbara Stanwyck' (qv), and 'Lucille Ball' (qv).
- Her great-grandfather was governor of Utah.
- When she was cast in _Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1981)_ (qv) at the age of 13, her mother 'Diane Ladd' (qv) refused to let her go, feeling she was too young to leave home for a movie shoot. Laura sued for emancipation and won, but the movie wasn't a hit.
- Played daughter to real-life mother 'Diane Ladd' (qv) in 4 movies: _Citizen Ruth (1996)_ (qv), _Daddy and Them (2001)_ (qv), _Wild at Heart (1990)_ (qv) and _White Lightning (1973)_ (qv).
- (21 August 2001) Welcomed first child, son Ellery Walker, with boyfriend 'Ben Harper (II)' (qv) in Los Angeles.