Un actor who is told by a director: “You are family”, can breathe a sigh of relief. That author will not only call him back to work together, but for their partnership he will often use respectful expressions, such as muse and teacher and / or pygmalion.
Laura Dern belongs to more than one family. And no wonder. First of all, because he is of excellent character and only a madman would not want to spend months on a set in his company. And then because family is an idea that fits her like a glove ever since, in 1974, at the age of 7, he joined his mother Diane Ladd in Alice doesn’t live here anymore. In the credits it is “little girl eating an ice cream cone”. With her mother she worked again, and three times they played mother and daughter in fiction, then in 1995 he made an affectionate short entitled Mom’s and Dad’s Movieto tell how, 25 years after their divorce, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern had decided to go back to making a film together, Mrs. Munk.
The meeting with David Lynch
Laura Dern did not become part of the family of Martin Scorsese, the director who offered her that first ice cream cone, partly because Scorsese’s entourage is traditionally very virile, and partly because she, Barely of age, he met another 90’s piece, David Lynch and in the blink of an eye, between 1986 and 1990, he participated in two unforgettable films for him, Blue Velvet And Wild Heart. It did not take long and he entered another genealogy, more bombastic and much better quoted on the stock exchange, perhaps it would be more correct to say dynasty, given the duration: in 1993 Steven Spielberg called her to interpret, in Jurassic Park, Dr. Ellie Sattler, paleobotanist who, proudly claims Dern, “at the time convinced many girls to undertake scientific studies” and even “a deputy I admire very much to enter politics.”
The trio who, along with the T-Rex, helped make the film’s fortune were her, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum. Laura was engaged to Sam in fiction (and after three decades, social media users found the time and energy to scream scandal, due to the age difference between the two), with Jeff she would have been for real and for four years. Spielberg had not distanced himself: we find him at the baptism of Ellery, the son of Dern and Ben Harper.
Action (sexy) movie
Talking to Laura Dern – on the phone with iO woman from the car that takes her to a London airport where she will take off for Morocco, back on the set of Lonely Planet by Susannah Grant – you understand that that film based on Michael Crichton’s 1990 bestseller, if he was not yet a legend, was for her, and right from the start, a sublime adventure. “We were there, we were going to work with Steven Spielberg. The Shark, Close Encounters they were two of my favorite films. I was thrilled, but none of us had any idea that what we were making was going to be one of the biggest technological breakthroughs in the history of cinema. It was all new, we acted staring at sheets of paper hanging from trees: worlds would be built there, a dinosaur, an action of some kind. We were in a collective madness. Now I know that I have witnessed a unique moment, that there was born a new way of telling stories. But what has changed for me since then, as if that wasn’t enough already, is that in 1993 I was in my 20s and was asking for permission to play a strong woman in an adventure film where they were all men. Today I no longer ask anyone’s permission. My voice took on strength, I raised my daughter, I fought my battles. The script was for me to say to an injured Jeff Goldblum, “Stay here and rest, I’ll take care of it.” It wasn’t an obvious joke. At that time in action movies, if girls were there, they wore sexy clothes and asked for the protection of men who knew how to do things. This saga has continued to grow with strong female characters and I am very proud of it ».
A millionaire saga
The saga – after the three Oscars in technical categories and dozens of other awards won with the first film, in addition to an abundant billion of tickets sold all over the world – he has ringed six films. A period of time in which there was a generational change, another four billion spectators, a lot of merchandising and three Razzie Awards (the awards given to the worst tests). The last of the series, Jurassic World: Dominationmocked by critics (“grasshoppers the size of refrigerators invade the fields of Kansas and Chris Pratt escapes from the T-Rex on a motorcycle” so The Obsto name just one) for lack of nuances and a bit too blatant eco-friendly message, he made yet another bang at the world box office: costing 165 million dollars, the film was shot almost all in one weekend and to date it has collected 430. But more importantly, the old guard – Dern, Neill, Goldblum, called back to support the less charismatic forties Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard – took their revenge. Dern no longer has very happy jokes like: “Dinosaur eats man. The woman inherits the land », but in the meantime she had already filled up with unforgettable monologues.
The patriarch of another family, that of America’s hipster filmmakers, Noah Baumbach, in Marriage Storywhere he made her wear the divorce lawyer suit, in 2019 he gave her this page (in summary): «We can accept an imperfect dad. Let’s face it, the idea of a good father was only invented thirty years ago. Before that, fathers were expected to be silent, absent, unreliable and selfish. We love them for their flaws, but people don’t accept those same flaws in mothers. We don’t accept it structurally and we don’t accept it spiritually. Because the basis of our Judeo-Christian “what is” is Mary, Mother of Jesus, and it is perfect. She is a virgin who gives birth, supports her son of hers and holds her corpse in her arms when he is gone. And dad? The father is not there ».
Five months in the bubble
“Destroyed women, women who have to ask permission, women struggling with addiction, narcissists, but also women in leadership positions, characters that up to a certain point in our history did not exist: I played them all,” recalls Laura Dern. “With Noah and Greta (Gerwig, Baumbach’s partner who directed Dern in Little women, ed) we talked about it recently. There are many people I have met in my life thanks to this job who have become more than friends. Peter Bogdanovich who passed away a few months ago was a family. Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and the whole ranks of Little Big Lies they are family. I am lucky to have found fathers, mothers, sisters like my collaborator Fríða Aradóttir (her Icelandic hairstylist, ed) thanks to this work. And when we shot Jurassic World: Domination locked in a bubble for five months during the pandemic and during the most terrible of election campaigns ever to be seen in America, another family was formed. We went through the crisis together, away from our loved ones who were at home, it was a complicated moment ».
Indeed cast and crew were segregated at the Langley Hotel, near Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, with a 107-page handbook on hygiene rules, a gym, a swimming pool and Frisbee tournaments on Sundays. Judging by the leaked videos, Jeff Goldblum was playing the piano the whole time.
Context aside, reconnecting the thread with the ecological scientist of three decades ago (“You never had control: that of control is the greatest of illusions” another good joke) was a walk in the park. Another thread that the daughter of the great Bruce Dern (86 years old, close to the milestone of 200 films), would like to stretch is the one with Ruth’s story 1996, directed by Alexander Payne, on the right to abortion in his country: «I hope that the platforms or the halls bring it back. It is the most important film that can now be shown in America for the new generations, for those who will vote in 2024, for my children ».
David Lynch used the adjective “bold” for her, not surprisingly. Laura Dern laughs. “You proposed a character to me some time ago for which that adjective could really have been used. But … I was talking about it to my friend Frida: “I will work with David again, and he will be a strong and courageous woman character”. And he: no, not “bold”, he will be “bald”, bald. You will have to shave “. Sure, I’d do it for David, and just for him, but I’d be very angry.
iO Donna © REPRODUCTION RESERVED