Laura Dern Biography

Laura Dern photo

Born: February 10, 1967


Date of Birth: February 10, 1967

Laura Dern was bitten by the acting bug as a child, when she played bit parts in her parents' (actors Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern) movies. Initially discouraged by them from becoming involved in the profession, acting was Dern's childhood goal, and after her parents divorced, she made her film debut at the age of six in White Lightning (1973).

The following year, Laura played a bit part in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. She got her first major role in 1980, playing a teenager in Adrian Lyne's Foxes. By 1983, she had appeared in more films, and in defiance of her parents' wishes, decided to get some formal dramatic training at the Lee Strasberg Institute, where she studied Method acting.

Laura went on to appear in films such as Teachers (1984) and Mask (1985) and gained a reputation for realistic portrayals of good-hearted innocents. She could have easily been typecast into such roles had Joyce Chopra not cast her as a rebellious teen anxious to experience a sexual awakening in Smooth Talk (1986). The young actress' portrayal earned her a New Generation Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics.

That same year, Laura became an even more marketable actress when she played a fresh-faced young sleuth in David Lynch's disturbing, groundbreaking Blue Velvet. She again worked with Lynch in the bizarre Wild at Heart (1990), in which she played an oversexed 20-year-old on the run with her lover (Nicholas Cage). The film proved to be a family affair, as Ladd played her villainous mother. The two appeared together again the following year in Rambling Rose. Dern's naturalistic performance as a troubled 19-year-old who wants love, but has confused it with sex, won her considerable acclaim that culminated in an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Ladd was also nominated, making it the first time a mother-daughter team had been so honored in the same year.

In 1993, Laura became a bigger star after winning a Golden Globe for her work in the TV movie Afterburn (1992). That same year, she portrayed a courageous paleo-botanist in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster Jurassic Park. Three years later, she played one of her most off-beat roles as a paint-huffing, spiteful, pregnant, and dumb as a box-of-doorknobs homeless girl who finds herself caught in the middle of a battle royale between pro- and anti-abortion groups in the black comedy Citizen Ruth.

In 1999, she took on two very diverse roles, first playing a supportive high school teacher in October Sky and then returning to the realm of eccentricity—and shared the screen with her mother again—as part of an unconventional Alabama family in Billy Bob Thornton's Daddy and Them (2000). Other film work includes appearing with Sean Penn in I Am Sam (2002), We Don't Live Here Anymore (2004) with Mark Ruffalo and Little Fockers (2010) with Ben Stiller.

On the small screen, Laura won a second Golden Globe—this time for her role in the historial drama Recount (2008). Just a few years later, she won a third Golden Globe for her role as Amy on the HBO TV series Enlightened, which she also co-created.

She then starred in the 2014 drama The Fault in Our Stars, and in Wild (2014) opposite Reese Witherspoon, for which Laura received her second Academy Award nomination. She appeared alongside Kirsten Stewart and Michelle Williams in the drama Certain Women (2016), the biopic The Founder (2016) starring Michael Keaton and the comedy Wilson (2017) with Woody Harrelson. She also starred in the major motion pictures Downsizing (2017) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).

For her role as Renata Klein on the critically acclaimed HBO drama series Big Little Lies, Laura won her fourth Golden Globe in 2018.

In 2019, Laura appeared in the revenge thriller remake Cold Pursuit and in Greta Gerwig's remake, Little Women. For her solid performance in Netflix's divorce drama Marriage Story, Laura won her first Oscar and won her fifth Golden Globe award in an acting category.

After dating musician Ben Harper for five years, Laura married him in 2005. The pair had two children together, Ellery Walker and Jaya. On October 8, 2010, Harper filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences." The divorce was finalized in 2013.


Cold Pursuit (2019)
Big Little Lies (2017)
Downsizing (2017)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Wilson (2017)
The Founder (2016)
Certain Women (2016)
Bravetown (2015)
99 Homes (2014)
Wild (2014)
When the Game Stands Tall (2014)
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Jurassic Park 3D (2013)
The Master (2012)
Little Fockers (2010)
Everything Must Go (2010)
Tenderness (2009)
Year of the Dog (2007)
Inland Empire (2006)
Lonely Hearts (2006)
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005)
Happy Endings (2005)
We Don't Live Here Anymore (2004)
I Am Sam (2001)
Focus (2001)
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Novocaine (2001)
Daddy and Them (2001)
Dr. T and the Women (2000)
October Sky (1999)
Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)
Citizen Ruth (1996)
A Perfect World (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Rambling Rose (1991)
Wild at Heart (1990)
Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)
Haunted Summer (1988)
Grizzly II: The Concert (1987)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Mask (1985)
Smooth Talk (1985)
Teachers (1984)
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)
Foxes (1980)
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)
White Lightning (1973)

  Change Location