Laura Dern starred in one of the biggest blockbusters of all time — Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” — and was nominated for an Academy Award for best actress for her starring role in “Rambling Rose.” Still, Laura Dern shares more in common with her character-actor parents, Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, than typical Hollywood leading ladies.
Dern’s first two on-screen appearances were uncredited roles in her mother’s films, “White Lightning” in 1973 and “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” in 1974.
At age 10, she declared her intention to pursue a career in acting.
She attended college briefly – USC for one semester and UCLA for two days – before dropping out and studying acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
Her fledgling career received a boost with the drama "Smooth Talk," in which she played a teenager experiencing a sexual awakening. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1985 Sundance Film Festival and earned Dern an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best female lead.
The following year, Dern caught a big break when she was cast as the innocent girlfriend turned amateur sleuth in David Lynch’s cult hit “Blue Velvet.” She would go on to collaborate with Lynch two more times, with “Wild at Heart” in 1990 and “Inland Empire” in 2006.
She received her Academy Award nomination for “Rambling Rose” in 1992, notable because her mother also received a nomination for the film (in a supporting role), making them the first mother-daughter team to earn Oscar nominations for the same film.
The nomination led to her high-profile roles in Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park,” Clint Eastwood’s “A Perfect World” and Alexander Payne’s debut feature, “Citizen Ruth.”
Dern also has received much acclaim for her TV work. She earned a Golden Globe for her role in the HBO movie “Afterburn” in 1993, another for her portrayal of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the 2008 election comedy-drama “Recount” and recevied an Emmy nomination for her guest appearance on the sitcom “Ellen” in 1997.
The actress has had many high-profile Hollywood romances, including with “Jurassic Park” costar Jeff Goldblum, to whom she was engaged, and actor Billy Bob Thornton. In 2005, she married singer Ben Harper, and they had two children: son Ellery Walker and daughter Jaya. The couple filed for divorce in October of 2010, citing irreconcilable differences.
Dern will next star in the HBO comedy series “Enlightened” which is set to debut in 2011.
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