Oral History: Laura Dern and the Pain & Joy of Acting

by Jack Tewksbury December 20, 2018
Laura Dern at the 49th Golden Globes, 1992

Laura Dern arrives at the 49th Golden Globes, January, 1992.

hfpa archives

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world's largest collection of its kind - over 10,000  items- is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.

In this excerpt from our archives, multi-nominee and Golden Globe winner Laura Dern (nominated again this year, for her work on The Tale) talks about the perils of an actor's life. This excerpt comes from the early 90s, a decade after Dern was our Miss Golden Globe, and close to the boom of Jurassic Park.

"There were movies where my agent phoned and made me the offer. Then there were movies where I, Geena Davis, Julia Roberts, Melanie Griffith, all totally different, were asked to come and read against each other for a role, which is absurd. If you get it, you realize somebody else is sad. 

I was always fascinated by acting as a profession, but my mom (Diane Ladd) said, "It's bad, it's difficult. There are lots of insecurities, a lot of judgments, and a lot of politics." At the ripe age of nine, I got a role in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. I loved it so much my mom finally allowed me to take acting classes years later. She was afraid  for me because she just didn't want me to go through the pain of losing a job because I was a foot taller or a foot shorter or I had blonde hair, that kind of thing. 

Romance? How can you help it? Two actors working intimately together weeks and months at a time. If there's chemistry there, it will go a step further."