- Laura Elizabeth Dern
February 10, 1967 (age 54)
- Actor, Television Producer, Voice Actor, Film Producer, Film Director, Screenwriter
- Ben Harper (m. 2005; div. 2013)
- Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd
Laura Elizabeth Dern (born February 10, 1967) is an American actress, film director and producer. Dern has acted in such films as Smooth Talk (1985), Blue Velvet (1986), Fat Man and Little Boy (1988), Wild at Heart (1990), Jurassic Park (1993), 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). Since October, 2011, Dern has starred in HBO’s Enlightened. In this role, she won the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy.
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. Speaking with Back Stage West again in 2004, Dern would expand upon her earlier comments; 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.
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.
Dern has had high-profile romances with Kyle MacLachlan, Nicolas Cage, Renny Harlin, Jeff Goldblum, and Billy Bob Thornton
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 together, son Ellery Walker (born August 2001) and daughter Jaya (born November 2004). Through this marriage, Dern also became a stepmother to Harper's children from his first marriage, his son Charles and daughter Harris. In October 2010, Harper filed for divorce from Dern, citing irreconcilable differences. They briefly reconciled and attended the 2012 Golden Globe Awards together, but Dern reactivated the divorce by filing a legal response in July 2012. The divorce was finalized in September 2013.