Laura Dern

Laura Dern


Also Known As
Laura Elizabeth Dern
Birth Place
Santa Monica, California, USA
February 10, 1967


From the surreal world of David Lynch to the blockbuster prehistoric adventures of Steven Spielberg, Oscar-nominated actress Laura Dern created one of the most interesting and unusual careers of any actress in Hollywood. Her track record as a risk-taker and her dedication to well-written female characters on a journey of self-discovery in films like "Blue Velvet" (1986) and "Rambling Ros...

Family & Companions

Treat Williams
Actor. Dated c. 1984.
Kyle MacLachlan
Actor. Together c. 1985-89.
Renny Harlin
Director. Later married Geena Davis.
Jeff Goldblum
Actor. Formerly married to Geena Davis; starred together in "Jurassic Park" (1993); engaged to be married on December 25, 1994; separated by 1996.


From the surreal world of David Lynch to the blockbuster prehistoric adventures of Steven Spielberg, Oscar-nominated actress Laura Dern created one of the most interesting and unusual careers of any actress in Hollywood. Her track record as a risk-taker and her dedication to well-written female characters on a journey of self-discovery in films like "Blue Velvet" (1986) and "Rambling Rose" (1991) often meant that her finest work was seen more often in art house cinemas. A growing public interest in upscale cable television movies such as "Afterburn" (HBO, 1992), "Down Came a Blackbird" (Showtime, 1995) and "Recount" (HBO, 2008) provided a second outlet for Dern's facile work with character dramas and dark comedy, leading to multiple Emmy nominations. Of course, Dern starred in major blockbusters like "Jurassic Park" (1993) and "Jurassic Park III" (2001), but she made her career in smaller films like "I Am Sam" (2001), "We Don't Live Here Anymore" (2004), and "Year of the Dog" (2007). The statuesque blonde with the respectable Hollywood pedigree could easily have sold out her sophisticated taste for a fulltime job brandishing weaponry in action thrillers, but she remained true to the offbeat, counterculture leanings of her famous parents, actors Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern. Adding to her list of indelible characters in acclaimed films ranging from Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" (2012) and Kelly Reichart's "Certain Women" (2016), Dern was the star of her own series, "Enlightened" (HBO. 2011-13), which earned her more acclaim and helped cement her status as one of Hollywood's most unique talents. After reuniting with David Lynch for an unforgettable performance in "Twin Peaks: The Return" (Showtime 2017), Dern made her debut in the Star Wars universe with a key role in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (2017).

In true Hollywood fashion, Laura Dern was conceived during the filming of Roger Corman's "The Wild Angels" (1966), a film in which parents Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd both acted, and was born on Feb. 10, 1967. Her parents split up while she was still a baby, though she grew up spending time with both of them. Her unconventional childhood including watching her father's severed head bounce down the stairs when "Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1965) aired on TV, and eating nine ice cream cones while shooting a scene as an extra in Martin Scorsese's "Alice D sn't Live Here Anymore" (1974), starring mom, Ladd. Dern also had the distinct opportunity of watching Alfred Hitchcock put her father through his paces on the set of "Family Plot" (1976). She began studying at the Lee Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles at the age of nine and was ecstatic to land a bit part as an irksome party crasher in Adrian Lyne's "Foxes" (1980). By that time, Dern had already blossomed into a 5'10" young woman who barely knew what to do with the long limbs and expressive facial features that powerfully magnified every emotional twinge.

Dern first registered with viewers in her role as a troubled pregnant teen in "Teachers" (1984), and was so convincing as the blind summer camper who falls for the disfigured protagonist of "Mask" (1985) that many audience members believed she really was sight-impaired. But before Hollywood could lock her in as a "symbol of purity" for that lovely and fragile performance, filmmakers Joyce Chopra and David Lynch came along and rescued her from typecasting, exploring her aura of latent dangerous sexuality in films that exposed the darker side of American small-town life. Chopra's "Smooth Talk" (1995), adapted from a Joyce Carol Oates short story, cast her opposite a sinisterly seductive Treat Williams, playing the brooding, alluring, teenage tease who is just beginning to discover the power of lust. Lynch's "Blue Velvet" (1986) poised her provocatively between innocence and the outlandishly weird; her smart, sweet Nancy Drew, the good twin to Isabella Rossellini's lewdly masochistic chanteuse. Despite the character's blue-eyed wholesomeness, she is the catalyst that propels the film into its most disturbing disclosures.

Following the disappointments of "Haunted Summer" (1988) and "Fat Man and Little Boy" (1989), in which she played a nurse who watches lover John Cusack die of radiation poisoning, she scored a resounding success as the gum-cracking, chain-smoking, hell-raising Lula Pace Fortune, Nicolas Cage's uninhibited traveling companion in Lynch's "Wild at Heart" (1990), a character diametrically opposed to her Sandy in "Blue Velvet." On the run from her crazed mother - played with manic glee by real-life mom Ladd - Lula summed up the spirit of the enterprise (and perhaps the Lynchian oeuvre in general): "The whole world's wild at heart and weird on top." The next year, again acting with Ladd, she won widespread critical acclaim as Rose, a sweetly wanton orphan-turned-housekeeper whose presence disrupts a 1930s Southern family in Martha Coolidge's "Rambling Rose" (1991). Dern received a Best Actress Oscar nomination while Ladd snagged a Best Supporting Actress nod, making them the first mother-daughter team cited in the same year for the same film. Dern delighted critics again the following year, earning an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe award for her performance as a military widow in the HBO docudrama "Afterburn" (1992).

Entering the world of big-time blockbusters, Dern acted as potential dinosaur chow for Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" (1993), in a role that was less demanding but far more high-profile than her preceding parts. She also mixed it up that year with co-stars Clint Eastwood and Kevin Costner as a criminologist in Eastwood's under-appreciated dark chase film "A Perfect World," its disappointing box office signaling audiences' unwillingness to accept Costner outside the heroic mode. After making her directing debut with the romantic short "The Gift" (Showtime, 1994), for which she also starred and provided the story, she executive-produced and acted alongside Raul Julia and Vanessa Redgrave in the dark political drama "Down Came a Blackbird" (Showtime, 1995). She returned to feature leads with a well-received performance as a pregnant glue-sniffer caught in a tug-of-war between pro-choice and pro-life forces in the satiric "Citizen Ruth" (1996), a film which also featured her mother in a raunchy unbilled cameo. 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.

Now balancing her career nicely between big screen character dramas and high-end TV movies, Dern went on to play ill-fated militia fugitive Vicki Weaver in "Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy" (CBS, 1996) and provided narration for that year's "Bastard Out of Carolina" (Showtime), a gritty drama about child abuse in the 1950s that marked Anjelica Huston's directorial debut. She secured her place in history (and a third Emmy nomination) as the lesbian lover in the "coming out" episode of "Ellen" (ABC, 1994-98), and turned around to give a critically-acclaimed performance as a low-rent mother of four who contracts to sell her next baby to a yuppie couple in "The Baby Dance" (Showtime, 1998). While dating Thornton in 1999, she was cast as his love interest in his film "Daddy and Them," about a dysfunctional Arkansas family which included (again) Diane Ladd, Andy Griffith and Jim Varney in his final film performance. Joe Johnston's "October Sky" (1999) presented Dern as a morally upright teacher who inspires West Virginia schoolboys to look beyond their coal-mining community.

After a small role in Robert Altman's ensemble "Dr. T and the Women" (2000) and a strategic cameo in the 2001 sequel "Jurassic Park III" (2001), Dern provided support as the caring girlfriend of a dentist (Steve Martin) whose life is thrown off track by a seductive patient (Helena Bonham Carter) in "Novacaine" (2001). Unfortunately, Dern - who had made a practice of flying under the tabloid radar - suffered a shocking blow in the public eye when her then fiancé of a year, Billy Bob Thornton, left her abruptly for his much younger "Pushing Tin" (1999) co-star, Angelina Jolie, going so far as to marry her within weeks. Dern found out the hard way, famously commenting that one day her fiancé went off to make a movie; the next day he had married someone else without telling her. Despite the press' obsession with the new vials-of-blood-sporting couple, Dern rose above the fray, continuing to churn out impressive performances while guarding her privacy at the same time.

In a pair of excellent performances, Dern teamed with actor William H. Macy as a WWII-era Brooklyn couple who are mistaken for Jews by anti-Semitic neighbors in "Focus" (2001), based on Arthur Miller novel, and a brief appearance in the drama "I Am Sam" (2001), starring Sean Penn as a mentally disabled man seeking custody of his daughter. Less successful, critically and creatively, was her subsequent telepic "Within These Walls" (2001), though she snared another plumb role in the well-praised cautionary HMO tale "Damaged Care" (HBO, 2002) as a doctor who blows the whistle on unsavory insurance practices. Dern took a few years off from the big screen to couple with singer Ben Harper and raise their first child but returned with a strong performance in the otherwise unremarkable indie drama "We Don't Live Here Anymore" (2004) as part of a pair of married academic couples who self-destructively drift into infidelity with the other's spouses. She followed with a supporting role as a married lesbian suspected of using sperm from her best male friend to conceive a baby in the seriocomic ensemble feature "Happy Endings" (2005).

Donning a June Cleaver wardrobe, Dern sparkled in "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" (2005), where she had a supporting role as a woman who encourages a mother of 12 (Julianne Moore) struggling to keep her impoverished family afloat to join a group of successful jingle-writing housewives. Re-entering the skewed world of David Lynch, Dern went on to earn universal rave reviews for anchoring the disjointed and surreal "Inland Empire" (2006), where she played an actress thrown into a rabbit-infested identity crisis odyssey. Some critics hailed the hallucinatory effort as the director's finest work while others felt Lynch slipping into self-parody, though both camps agreed that Dern's performance was outstanding. The directorial debut from screenwriter Mike White, "Year of the Dog" (2007), received limited release and Dern's supporting role as the know-it-all sister-in-law of a pet lover at a crossroads (Molly Shannon) was little-seen. But the following year Dern made her mark on the small screen with an Emmy-nominated portrayal of Florida Secretary of State Katharine Harris in HBO's acclaimed political drama "Recount" (2008). The fact-based picture chronicled the events surrounding the 2000 presidential election and earned a number of Emmy nominations for its skillful dramatization of the complicated story. For her efforts, Dern also earned a 2008 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in the television movie and miniseries category. After joining Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro for "Little Fockers" (2010), Dern returned to cable television for an acclaimed performance in "Enlightened" (HBO, 2011), playing a corporate executive who winds up in a mental health treatment center following a breakdown. The role earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. Dern's next appearances on the big screen came in the tragic teen romance "The Fault in Our Stars" (2014) and "Wild" (2014), the big-screen adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's memoir, for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Dern continued working steadily, starring in financial drama "99 Homes" (2015) and Kelly Reichart's "Certain Women" (2016), a film based on the stories of author Maile Meloy. Dern also maintained her impressive balance between cult favorites and mainstream work, appearing in both Lynch's reboot of "Twin Peaks" (Showtime 2017) and Rian Johnson's "Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi" (2017).



Director (Feature Film)

Call Me Crazy: A Five Film (2013)

Cast (Feature Film)

Marriage Story (2019)
Cold Pursuit (2019)
Little Women (2019)
JT Leroy (2018)
Trial by Fire (2018)
The Tale (2018)
Downsizing (2017)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Rebel in the Rye (2017)
Wilson (2017)
Certain Women (2016)
The Founder (2016)
Strings (2015)
Wild (2014)
When the Game Stands Tall (2014)
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
The Master (2012)
Everything Must Go (2011)
Little Fockers (2010)
Tenderness (2009)
Recount (2008)
Year of the Dog (2007)
Inland Empire (2006)
Lonely Hearts (2006)
Happy Endings (2005)
Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)
We Don't Live Here Anymore (2004)
Terry Linden
Searching for Debra Winger (2003)
Damaged Care (2002)
Novocaine (2001)
Within These Walls (2001)
Daddy and Them (2001)
Focus (2001)
Gertrude Hart
Jurassic Park III (2001)
I Am Sam (2001)
Randy Carpenter
Dr. T and the Women (2000)
A Season for Miracles (1999)
October Sky (1999)
The Baby Dance (1998)
Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)
Voice Of Adult Bone (Narration)
Citizen Ruth (1996)
Down Came a Blackbird (1995)
A Perfect World (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Afterburn (1992)
Rambling Rose (1991)
Wild at Heart (1990)
Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)
Haunted Summer (1988)
Claire Clairmont
Smooth Talk (1986)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Sandy Williams
Mask (1985)
Teachers (1984)
3 Wishes Of Billy Grier (1984)
Happy Endings (1983)
Audrey Constantine
Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)
Jessica Mcneil
Foxes (1980)

Producer (Feature Film)

Inland Empire (2006)
Damaged Care (2002)
Down Came a Blackbird (1995)
Executive Producer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Searching for Debra Winger (2003)

Director (Special)

The Gift (1994)

Cast (Special)

AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to George Clooney (2018)
2004 IFP/Independent Spirit Awards (2004)
Intimate Portrait: Rosanna Arquette (2003)
Shelley Winters: Full Disclosure (2001)
Equality Rocks (2000)
Intimate Portrait: Mary Steenburgen (1999)
Intimate Portrait: Laura Dern (1999)
The AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars (1999)
Intimate Portrait: Kelly Preston (1999)
Hollywood Salutes Jodie Foster: An American Cinematheque Tribute (1999)
Fall in Love With a Stranger (1999)
The Real Ellen Story (1998)
75 Years of Laughter (1998)
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards (1997)
The 54th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1997)
Family Film Awards (1996)
The American Film Institute Salute to Steven Spielberg (1995)
The 66th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1994)
A Century of Women (1994)
51st Annual Golden Globe Awards (1994)
Fourth Annual Environmental Media Awards (1994)
The 18th Annual People's Choice Awards (1992)
Rock the Vote (1992)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1989)

Writer (Special)

The Gift (1994)
From Story

Special Thanks (Special)

The Gift (1994)
From Story

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy (1996)

Life Events


Made TV debut on the CBS soap opera "The Secret Storm"; her mother played a regular on the series


Had first feature film credit as an extra in "White Lightning"


Made a brief appearance in Martin Scorsese's "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"


Played bit part as an irksome party crasher in Adrian Lyne's "Foxes"


Made TV-movie debut in "Happy Endings"


Played a young student opposite Nick Nolte in "Teachers"


Offered an impressive performance as a sexually curious teenager in her first leading role in Joyce Chopra's "Smooth Talk"


Attracted attention as Eric Stoltz's blind girlfriend in Peter Bogdanovich's "Mask"


First collaboration with director David Lynch in "Blue Velvet"


Reteamed with Stoltz for the forced and disappointing "Haunted Summer"


Made New York stage debut opposite then-boyfriend Kyle MacLachlan in the off-Broadway production "The Palace of Amateurs"


Played a chain-smoking floozy in Lynch's "Wild at Heart"; onscreen mom played by her real-life mother Diane Ladd


Starred as a pure-hearted nymphomaniac in Martha Coolidge's "Rambling Rose"; earned first Best Actress Academy Award nomination; also earned a Golden Globe nomination


Received an Emmy nomination for her performance as the widow of an Air Force pilot in the HBO film "Afterburn"


Portrayed a criminologist assisting in the tracking of a pair of escaped convicts in the Clint Eastwood-directed "A Perfect World"


Cast as a woman who falls in love with a man who may be a murderer on the Showtime series "Fallen Angels"; received an Emmy nomination


Cast as a paleontologist in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster feature "Jurassic Park"


Made directorial debut with "The Gift"; also starred with Diane Ladd and Isabella Rossellini; broadcast as a presentation of Showtime's Directed By series


Executive produced (and acted in) Showtime's "Down Came a Blackbird"


Acted the part of Vicki Weaver in "Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy" (CBS)


Portrayed an irresponsible and drug abusing pregnant woman in Alexander Payne's directorial debut "Citizen Ruth"; Diane Ladd makes a cameo appearance as Dern's mother


Received an Emmy nomination for her guest role as a lesbian who coaxes Ellen DeGeneres out of the closet in the famous "Puppy Episode" of the ABC series "Ellen"


Offered a critically acclaimed performance in Showtime's "The Baby Dance"; produced by Jodie Foster; earned a Golden Globe nomination


Played a teacher opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Cooper in Joe Johnston's "October Sky"


Acted with then-boyfriend Billy Bob Thornton in "Daddy and Them"; written and directed by Thornton


Cast as a doctor who takes on HMOs in the Showtime movie "Damaged Care"


Co-starred with Mark Ruffalo, Peter Krause and Naomi Watts in "We Don't Live Here Anymore"


Appeared in the drama "The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio" opposite Julianne Moore


Co-starred in "Happy Endings," a comedic drama about the ups and downs of relationships


Reteamed with Lynch to star in "Inland Empire"


Played Molly Shannon's know-it-all sister-in-law in "Year of the Dog"


Portrayed controversial Florida politician Katherine Harris in the HBO movie "Recount"; earned Emmy and SAG nominations for Best Actress in a TV-Movie


Joined the ensemble cast of "Little Fockers," opposite Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, and Dustin Hoffman


Starred on HBO's "Enlightened" as a corporate executive who winds up in a mental health treatment center after a nervous breakdown


Appeared in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master"


Co-starred in film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed memoir "Wild"


Received her second Oscar nomination for "Wild"


Co-starred in "F is for Family"


Co-starred in the hotly anticipated drama "Certain Women"


Co-starred alongside Michael Keaton in McDonald's founder biopic "The Founder"


Guest starred on "The Last Man on Earth"


Co-starred on HBO drama "Big Little Lies"


Appeared as Diane, Dale Cooper's secretary, on the third season of "Twin Peaks"


Cast as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"


Movie Clip

White Lightning (1973) -- (Movie Clip) I'm Talking About My Brother! Nice scene for the always under-appreciated Matt Clark as mechanic/bootlegger Dude, as Gator (Burt Reynolds), working with the feds, presses him for info about the crooked sheriff who killed his brother, Dianne Ladd as Dude’s wife, the girl on the tire swing her real daughter, Laura Dern, in White Lightning, 1973.
Blue Velvet -- (Movie Clip) Pest Control Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) practicing stealth, posing as the bug-man visiting Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini) and stealing keys, Sandy (Laura Dern) assisting, in David Lynch's Blue Velvet, 1986.
Blue Velvet -- (Movie Clip) Opportunities In Life College-man Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) collects Sandy (Laura Dern) from school and offers a stimulating proposition, as the plot starts to thicken in writer-director David Lynch's Blue Velvet, 1986.
Blue Velvet -- (Movie Clip) It's Horrible Too A family photo appears as Detective Williams (George Dickerson) tells Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) to steer clear of his case, after which the subject Sandy (Laura Dern) appears, in David Lynch's Blue Velvet, 1986.
Blue Velvet -- (Movie Clip) Open, Mr. Beaumont Eerie and literal opening from David Lynch's Blue Velvet, 1986, starring Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini, leading to the title song and initial events.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains -- (Movie Clip) We Don't Put Out "The Stains" (Diane Lane, Laura Dern, Marin Kantor) discover their cult following, "The Looters" (Ray Winstone, Paul Simonon, Steve Jones, Paul Cook) argue and Lawnboy (Barry Ford) goes rasta in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 1982.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains -- (Movie Clip) Waste of Time The first performance by Corrine (Diane Lane) and her group bombs until she throws a fashion tantrum, to the horror of bandmates (Laura Dern and Marin Kanter) in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 1982.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains -- (Movie Clip) The Professionals Corinne (Diane Lane) has a revelation leading to a music-business success montage starring herself and bandmates Laura Dern and Marin Kanter in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 1982.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains -- (Movie Clip) Open: Interview Opening sequence from Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 1982, introduces TV anchor Harley Dennis (Peter Donat), Corrine "3rd Degree" Burns (Diane Lane) and sidekick "Dizzy" (Laura Dern).
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains -- (Movie Clip) I'm Shocked! John "Fee" Waybill of The Tubes (as "Lou Corpse") finds a dead bandmate, as Ray Winstone (as "Billy") and "The Stains" (Diane Lane, Marin Kanter and Laura Dern) act sullen in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 1982.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains -- (Movie Clip) Aunt Linda Corinne (Diane Lane) wants to make a phone call and Jessica (Laura Dern) wants to change her name, to the disgust of Linda (Christine Lahti) and Brenda (Janet Wright) in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 1982.




George Dern
Politician. Served as Secretary of War under Franklin Roosevelt; opposed the development and use of the atomic bomb; also served as governor of Utah.
Bruce Dern
Actor. Born June 4, 1936, married to Diane Ladd (1960-67) and Andrea Beckett (from 1969).
Diane Ladd
Actor. Born Diane Rose Ladner, November 29, 1932.
Andrea Beckett
Married Bruce Dern in 1969.
Robert Hunter
Married Diane Ladd in February 1999.
Archibald MacLeish
Poet, playwright.
Tennessee Williams
Playwright. Cousin of Diane Ladd.
Shelley Winters
Diane E Dern
Born on November 27, 1960; drowned at age 18 months on May 18, 1962 before Dern was born.
Ellery Walker Harper
Born on August 21, 2001; father, Ben Harper.
Mary Lanier
Actress. Mother of Diane Ladd.


Treat Williams
Actor. Dated c. 1984.
Kyle MacLachlan
Actor. Together c. 1985-89.
Renny Harlin
Director. Later married Geena Davis.
Jeff Goldblum
Actor. Formerly married to Geena Davis; starred together in "Jurassic Park" (1993); engaged to be married on December 25, 1994; separated by 1996.
Billy Bob Thornton
Actor. Dating as of March 1997; met on famous "coming out" episode of "Ellen" (ABC); in 1999 announced plans to marry; separated in 2000 after Thorton unexpectedly married actress Angelina Jolie.
Ben Harper
Musician. Born c. 1969; dating as of late 2000; he was previously married and divorced; engaged September 2004.