25 Things You Never Knew About Laura Dern

Not every actor is lucky enough to have a career that lasts for their entire adult life, let alone one that offers them iconic role after iconic role.

However, Laura Dern is one actor who has been delivering awesome performances for decades, whether in nostalgic blockbusters, quaint period pieces or edgy horror movies.

With her latest role hitting screens soon, there are still things the average person wouldn’t know about her, which is why we’re counting down the top ten things you probably didn’t know about Laura Dern.


25. She was conceived on a movie set

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Lots of performers make the claim that acting is in their blood, but Laura Dern has more receipts to back that up than most.

Not only are both her parents actors, but she was conceived by them during an on-set romance.

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As if that wasn’t rock and roll enough, the movie was a biker flick about rebels and outlaws, named The Wild Angels.

As a result, Dern used to carry around a picture of her parents clad in leather jackets and piercings.

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The movie has since become a cult classic, and is a favourite of many fans to this day.

24. Her mother was also an actress

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Though both Dern’s parents were involved in the acting profession, it was her mother who collaborated with her on projects numerous times.

They even shared the screen three times, most recently in 2006.

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In Wild at Heart, the two literally played mother and daughter.

However, Dern’s mother, Diane Ladd, was slightly less of a loving mother than she seems in real life.

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In another named Rambling Rose, they earned the first mother and daughter Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress nomination for the same movie.

23. She sued her parents as a child

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Given both her parents’ experience with the entertainment industry, it makes sense that on the one hand they’d be supportive and understanding of her wish to be an actress.

However, they were also wary about the pressures of being on set.

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Their wariness caused them to ban her from travelling for her first professional long-distance film shoot.

This resulted in her suing for emancipation and winning at the age of 15, so she could be allowed to make her own choice.

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Dern has been keen to dispel rumours that this was due to any bad blood between her and her parents, stating that it was purely for functional purposes.

22. Her boyfriend got married without her knowledge

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Having an awkward break-up is something most people try desperately to avoid.

This is why ghosting – disappearing from someone’s life without any warning or explanation – is becoming more and more trendy on the dating scene.

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Despite ghosting being way harder to accomplish when you’re a star, Dern’s boyfriend Billy Bob Thornton did it anyway.

While Dern was away shooting a film, he  moved out and married Angelina Jolie, without even talking to Dern.

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The two have reportedly never spoken since, although they were spotted meeting awkwardly in passing at a recent awards event .

21. She has the scariest face ever

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Some actors have one genre of film that they stick to religiously, and they become famous for being the go-to actor for roles of that kind.

Other actors take on many different kinds of projects and love working within different genres, and Dern definitely falls into the second catergory.

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In particular, one project of hers called Inland Empire, has her constantly topping the lists of scariest moments in film.

Her horrifically distorted face in one iconic long shot is brought up again and again in Youtube videos and horror movie listicles, and for good reason.

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Along with her 5″10″ lanky frame and infamously large feet, we wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley at night!

20. She nearly missed out on Blue Velvet to Molly Ringwald

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Laura Dern has been a part of several iconic franchises over the years, and has proven her longevity in the entertainment world.

With that said, her career could have panned out very differently, given that she almost lost out on the role that became her big break.

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It was her time as Sandy in Blue Velvet that launched her career in the big leagues, but she wasn’t the only actress to be considered.

The role almost went to a 16-year-old Molly Ringwald, who went on to become an 80s icon in her own right.

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However, luckily for Dern, Ringwald’s mother did not approve of the script and rumour has it she didn’t even pass it on to her daughter.

19. Her sister died tragically when Dern was a kid

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Given that Laura Dern grew up in the spotlight, the lack of siblings in her home pictures led many to assume she was an only child.

That’s untrue, but the truth is far more upsetting, as her only sibling, sister Diane Dern, died very young.

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Laura’s sister drowned in a swimming pool at just 18 months old, and Dern’s childhood was affected immensely.

It’s part of the reason that she was allowed to become an actress, as her mother tried hard to not be overprotective and instead gave her free reign.

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Sadly, the tragic event would also be the catalyst for Dern’s parents’ divorce just a few years later.

18. She’s had a fair few celebrity romances

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Laura Dern has grown up around actors, and then moved into an industry that was full of them.

When you look at it like that, it’s not surprising that she ended up dating predominantly other actors.

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Over the years, she has dated film star Nicolas Cage and Twin Peaks’ Kyle MacLachlan.

Both were actually her co-stars on certain projects, and both of those projects had David Lynch at the helm.

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She’s also best friends with fellow A-list star Bradley Cooper.

17. Her mother also made a ‘classic’ dinosaur movie

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Laura Dern had her big break as a young teenager, and has since worked on everything from indie flicks to blockbusters.

However, many people will know her from her iconic role in the original Jurassic Park movie.

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One strange similarity between her and her mother is that they both starred in dinosaur movies in the same year.

However, her mother opted for the considerably more campy Carnosaur instead of the Spielberg classic.

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This film was not quite so well received as its blockbusting counterpart, and has a rating of just 11% on Rotten Tomatoes.

16. She broke a Golden Globes record

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Though Laura Dern has undoubtedly succeeded as an actress on her own merits, there’s no denying that she was helped by her parentage in certain specific ways.

For example, she got the coveted job of escorting actors off the stage at the Golden Globes.

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This is a role normally given to the children of actors.

She was unprecedented in one regard though, and that is the fact that she was the youngest ever person to be given the job, at just 15 years old.

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Since then, Dern has gone on to be awarded several Golden Globes herself, most recently winning Best Supporting Actress in Big Little Lies.

15. Martin Scorsese was the one who said Dern ‘had to be an actress’ as a child

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Dern made an uncredited appearance in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, which was directed by Martin Scorsese.

In the scene, she was required to eat an ice cream cone. Sounds easy, right?

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Dern actually had to endure a total of 19 takes- that means 19 ice creams!

After she managed this tricky feat, Scorsese was so impressed that he told her mother ‘she has to be an actress’.

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We wonder if she still enjoys the odd ice cream these days…

14. There was an unusual campaign for her to be nominated for an Oscar in 2007

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Director David Lynch, the man behind such cheese dream fantasies as Blue Velvet and Mulholland Empire, was so impressed by Dern’s performance in his 2006 film Inland Empire that he felt she deserved some serious recognition.

Dern had no Oscars to her name – at the time, she had just one nomination, for 1991’s Rambling Rose. Lynch felt this needed correcting.

The director took it upon himself to fight for his actor’s cause, and went to quite extreme measures.

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His campaign consisted of Lynch sitting on Hollywood Boulevard holding a FYC banner featuring a shot of Dern in the movie.

Lynch, who would often just sit there smoking, was, bizarrely, accompanied by a rather large cow.

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Unfortunately, the campaign was unsuccessful and Dern did not receive the nomination despite Lynch’s best efforts.

13. She was blacklisted by Hollywood for appearing on Ellen

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In 1994, Dern made several appearances on the Ellen Show.

These were ‘coming out’ episodes and they embraced gay themes.

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This was hugely controversial at the time, and Dern was ousted by her fellow Hollywood A-listers.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey also appeared in several episodes.

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She has since revealed that she received more hate mail that she had ever gotten throughout her entire career.

12. She’s been engaged three times

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Dern’s first engagement was to Jeff Goldblum, whom she met on the set of Jurassic Park.

The pair were together for just two years before they called it a day in 1997.

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She was briefly engaged to Billy Bob Thornton until his marriage to Angelina Jolie put a screeching halt on their relationship.

Dern then met Ben Harper at a concert and the couple were hitched in 2005.

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The pair had two children together, but they sadly divorced in 2013.

11. She is an activist and supports many charities

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Dern’s main passion is for the charity Healthy Child, Healthy Mind.

The charity seek to raise awareness over toxic substances that can harm a child’s health.

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She also advocated for Down Syndrome awareness whilst being featured on the cover of Ability Magazine.

She is also open about her political beliefs, expressing support for Barack Obama’s presidency during her Golden Globe acceptance speech.

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In 2018, her guest to the Golden Globes was activist Monica Ramirez.

10. She beat Gwyneth Paltrow for her role in Jurassic Park

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Dern is perhaps most famous for her role in the classic movie Jurassic Park.

However, she had to fend off some serious competition to land the part.

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This included actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Helen Hunt, both of whom were vying for the part of Dr. Ellie Sattler.

This wasn’t revealed to Dern until 2013 when she appeared on The Today Show.

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After viewing the audition tapes, Dern remarked that she was ‘a lucky girl’.

9. She broke her ‘no nudity’ rule for Wild at Heart

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Dern apparently has a strict ‘no nudity’ policy, and has even turned away work as a result of her strong personal values.

However, she was so invested in the Wild at Heart script that she decided to make a rare exception.

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Dern had fun ‘exploring the hypersexualised world’ of Wild at Heart, and clearly threw herself into the role.

‘I’ve never sort of condoned it [nudity] for myself, but David wanted it, and I was completely comfortable with it because that love story was so protected,’ Dern explained.

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She also commented on how it would be received by American audiences compared to European ones.

8. She made film industry history

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Back in 1996, Dern starred in Alexander Payne’s first major movie, Citizen Ruth.

The film revolves around a young woman with addiction issues who is forced to decide whether she wants to see an unexpected pregnancy through to the end.

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The film made a lot of noise in the press at the time for being so open on the abortion debate. It wasn’t this film that made history for Dern, however.

17 years after Citizen Ruth, Dern’s father Bruce starred in another Payne film, Nebraska. This is one of the few, perhaps only, father-daughter actor duos to star for the same director.

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This is especially unusual as the daughter’s performance preceded the father’s.

7. She had an unusual childhood

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Of course, we’ve already mentioned the tragic incident that led to the Dern family’s ultimate demise.

But the childhood tragedy of Dern’s sister’s death when she was just two years old led to further repercussions.

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After the divorce of her parents, Dern’s grandmother played a pivotal role in her upbringing, helping Dern’s mother to raise her.

The family were also devout Roman Catholics, meaning Dern lived in a very religious household.

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The family abided by strict Catholic values, meaning that pre-marital relations and bad behaviour were strictly prohibited.

6. She has spoken out with her own personal #MeToo story

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In 2017, in the wake of the #MeToo scandal, Dern bravely spoke out about the assault she had suffered as a teenager.

She made the shocking revelation during an appearance on The Ellen Show.

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She commended other survivors who had spoken out against their abusers, including Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lawrence.

Dern was just 14 at the time of the incident, although she understandably declined to provide more details.

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She spoke about how her mother supported her through this time, and would not allow her to rationalise the abuse she suffered.

5. She’s never seen some of her own films

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Some actors enjoy working their own work, whereas others find it embarrassing or end up over analysing their whole performance.

Dern tends to fall into the second category, and has confessed that she’s never seen any of Grizzly II: The Concert.

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She has only heard snippets about the movie from her co star George Clooney, including the fact that the film is just 40 minutes long in total.

Dern explained that she was just 16 when she filmed for the project, and that she had enjoyed her time working in Budapest with Clooney as well as Charlie Sheen.

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According to Dern, it was ‘the craziest time’ and ‘the paprika chicken was amazing’.

4. October Sky was her favourite movie to be involved in

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According to Dern, October Sky is one of just two films she would feel comfortable showing to her son.

The other is of course Jurassic Park, which she starred in when she was just 25.

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Dern recalled how she was often approached by teenage boys who enjoyed the movie, and she felt her son would connect to the main character in the same way.

She did clarify that her son would be a teen before she introduced him to the film, as Dern’s character goes ‘through a hard time’.

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She also remarked on how much fun it was to work with Jake Gyllanhaal, who had his first major break after being involved with the project.

3. She struggled with depression as a teen

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When Dern was 17, she was working on a film where her character struggled with a emotional difficulties.

Dern was a keen method actress, which led to her internalising the emotions portrayed by the character.

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‘I was just a girl trying to have a good time,’ explained Dern. ‘All I knew was, 14 hours a day I was crying’.

This all changed when she met Sandra Seacat, an acting tutor who helped her to heal through the creative process.

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Dern came to the realisation that acting could be utilised in an attempt to grow oneself, and since then she has learned to truly enjoy playing her roles.

2. She takes her roles very seriously

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One of Dern’s most well-known roles was as Renata Klein on Big Little Lies.

Her character is described as a ‘clench jawed control freak’.

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As we all know, preparation is key, and Dern has made no secret of the fact that she invested some serious time and energy into preparing for the part.

Dern approached female leaders in the tech industry and was able to interview them to gain insight into being a female in a male dominated field.

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Her efforts were rewarded, and she ended up winning a Golden Globe award for the role.

1. She’s co-starred with Shailene Woodley twice

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The pair first worked together filming The Fault in our Stars, where Dern played Woodley’s character’s mother.

The film is a poignant portrayal of living with cancer as a teen, and Dern and Woodley’s on screen chemistry is undeniable.

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They went on to co-star together in Big Little Lies three years later.

At the time, Woodley had been taking a break from acting to focus on her activism.

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However, when she heard Dern was involved in the production, she was convinced to take part.