Date of Birth
February 10, 1967
Place of Birth
Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Laura Elizabeth Dern
5′ 10½” (1.79 m)
Platinum blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes
Bruce Dern & Diane Ladd
Ellery Walk & Jaya Harper
Dern was born 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. The poet, writer, and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish was her great-great-uncle.
After her parents’ divorce when she was two years old, Dern was largely brought up by her mother and grandmother, losing contacts with her father for several years. She was raised Roman Catholic.
Dern was exposed to movie sets and the movie industry from infancy, and obtained several bit parts as a child. 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.
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 in 2005. The two had two children and divorced in 2013.
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.
− It’s really fun to act like a bimbo. But it’s fun to act like a bimbo only when people know that you really aren’t one.
− I’ve always gravitated towards playing women who don’t know they’re entitled to a voice, let alone how to find it. The ones who intrigue me most are those people who didn’t know they’re entitled to self-awareness, so that’s a very cool thing to explore. And I wish that for all women.
− When I was eight or nine, I was supposed to have a play date with a boy, but he came up to me and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, my dad said you can’t come over because your dad killed John Wayne!”
− She said that her idols are Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck and Lucille Ball.
− Hers and her mother’s (Diane Ladd) Oscar nominations for Rambling Rose (1991) mark the first time a mother and daughter ever received Oscar nominations for the same movie.
− Has played daughter to real-life mother Diane Ladd in four movies: White Lightning (1973), Wild at Heart (1990), Citizen Ruth (1996) and Daddy and Them (2001).
− She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6270 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on November 1, 2010.
− Gave birth to her first child at age 34, a son Ellery Walker Harper on August 21, 2001, and to her second child, a daughter Jaya on November 28, 2004. Her kids father is her ex-husband Ben Harper, they weren’t yet married at time of their birth.
− She knew she wanted to be an actress at age 11, but her parents hated the idea. However, she decided to contact an agent for possible acting jobs, without the blessing of her unaware parents.
− Had to give up her passion for horses and riding, when she decided to pursue her passion for acting, since her mother wished for her to focus on only one of her passions.
− Has English, German, Norwegian, Scottish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, and more distant Dutch, French and Swiss, ancestry.
− Her character, Dr. Ellie Sattler, did not originally feature in the script for Jurassic Park III (2001). The character finally came aboard when her friend and former director Alexander Payne did the final rewrite of the script.
− Her favorite movie is the romance comedy film The Lady Eve (1941).
− Was blacklisted by Hollywood for several years, following her guest spot on the “coming out” episodes of Ellen (1994), due to the embracing gay themes, that were controversial at the time.