Happy Thanksgiving! What better gift for you on this weekend of celebrating abundance than an interview with one of the most gifted actors in the world. Laura Dern has been shocking and stirring moviegoers with finely carved and often daringly dramatic or weirdly comic performances for the past thirty years.
Born into showbiz (her parents are Oscar-nominees Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd) she grew up onscreen and around film sets. Her breakthrough came early at the age of eighteen. Her first hit as a blind girl in Mask was shortly followed by a revelatory performance as a young girl treading into dangerous sexual waters with an older stranger in Smooth Talk. The very next year she worked with David Lynch on Blue Velvet beginning a long collaborative and rather genius director/muse duet. Nearly thirty years later she's still delivering buzzy performances. On paper her new character Bobbi in Wild, an incongruously positive dying mother who we meet in wisps of memories as Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) attempts a soul searching hike on the PCT, seems far removed from the reckless spirits that made Dern such a fascinating screen presence. But that's not the way Dern sees it, describing this woman as "wild" and "a pioneer".
When we sat down to talk in Los Angeles it had been the third time I'd seen her in the past year, since she was such a regular presence on the Oscar circuit last season for her father's nomination. "You were practically his campaign manager," I say, fondly remembering her indefatigable enthusiasm for his work as we settle in sharing memories of a Nebraska reception a year back.
"I mean... I'll always be." she says, beaming, ever the devoted daughter now promoting her own film that happens to be about a deep parent-child connection. The back-to-back award campaigns seem like a good place to start...
NATHANIEL: Did all that time with your father last year make you hungry for an Oscar yourself?