WILD @ heart
Fairlady|May 2020
She was born into the industry, but Laura Dern’s route to the top had much more to do with her passionate love of her craft and her indie spirit than her famous parents. Whether she’s outrunning a raptor, taking a baseball bat to her husband’s toy collection (you go, Renata!) or exploring the nuances of a quiet conversation, this Oscar winner has us mesmerised.
SAMEENA AMIEN

The divorce lawyer turns on the recorder and stalks quietly into the space where her client sits, apprehensive and tense. Her tone is by turns empathetic and no-nonsense as she coaxes the tearful woman to tell her side of the story. But underneath her gentle, supportive veneer, the steely, manipulative undercurrent hums.

This scene, from Marriage Story, is Laura Dern at her best, delivering a layered performance worthy of the Supporting Actress Oscar (and the Golden Globe, the SAG, the BAFTA) she walked home with on 10 February this year – her 54th birthday.

Laura is currently riding the wave of what the media has dubbed ‘the Dernaissance’ with two major movies released in the past year: Greta Gerwig’s re-imagining of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women also received a handful of Oscar nods. Says Gerwig: ‘I knew that she would be loving, and she would be warm, and that she would be the mother we wish we had, and that she also would be able to be the person who says: “I’m angry almost every single day of my life” and we’d know that that was true.’

It’s the same skill that allows her to portray both the duality of the brittle, bullish, Renata Klein in Big Little Lies and the silkily manipulative Nora Fanshaw in Marriage Story.

What made Marriage Story so real, said Laura, was that every person on set had a divorce story to tell. ‘There was no one on this movie that hadn’t had their family “reconfigured”, if you will, so we all share that. It feels deeply personal to all of us. As Noah [Baumbach] said about the story when we first talked about it, “I want to tell a love story where endings are not failures”. That really moved me and struck me deeply. To my amazing divorced parents, and my amazing step-parents, and my amazing children – who came from love despite an ending in a marriage – [I say] we’re so privileged to redefine what family looks like.’

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