Monday, August 9th, 2004
USA Today.com chat with Laura Dern
Laura Dern stars as Terry Linden in "We Don't Live Here Anymore", a film about indiscretion between two close friends that tears down their respective marriages. Dern has starred in nearly 40 films including Jurassic Park, I Am Sam, Novocaine, October Sky, Wild at Heart and Blue Velvet. Chat with Dern about her new film and her career.


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Brainerd, MN: I really love your role in Jurassic Park. It's a movie can watch over and over. Did you enjoy making that movie?

Laura Dern: I enjoyed it so much it was a privilege to work with Steven Spielberg. It was exciting to work on a different kind of movie than I have ever worked on before.

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Kenai, Alaska: Is this film at the theatres now?

Laura Dern: The film is called 'We Don't Live Anymore', it's about two marriages in crisis and how people find their way back to each other. I believe it opens in LA and NY this Friday but in the next couple of weeks it'll be out everywhere.

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Neptune,NJ: Hey Laura, What was it like on the set of Wild At Heart ? The collection of characters in that movie was great. Did you all have a good time when the camers weren't rolling ?

Laura Dern: It was an amazing experience. It was my second time working with David Lynch, which is is an expansive experience for me as an actor. And I think we all had a wonderful time.

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Voorhees, NJ: Out of all the projects that you've done over the years, which one was your favorite?

Laura Dern: It's hard to say, sometimes your favorite is because of the character and sometimes it's the experience of the people you work with. But my favorite characters have probably been Rose in 'Rambling Rose' and Ruth in 'Citizen Ruth.'

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Centreville, Va: Laura, The character you played in Citizen Ruth reminded me so much of a friend of mine. The way you walked the way you talked and even your facial expressions. At one point I actually thought it was really my friend. So my question is how do you do it? How are you able to change who you are and become someone like this?

Laura Dern: It's what I love to do as an actor. It's a thrill to try to to transform and keep things honest and pure.

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southfield, mi: Hi Laura, Great fan. I have to ask - you were so convincingly terrified in Jurassic Park - how did you prep, given that there is nothing remotely close to being up front and personal with a T-Rex or Raptor...You were remarkable!

Laura Dern: It definitely was the best use of my imagination to date. Even though we've met a few T-Rex's in our lives. So I guess an actor tries to personalize any experience.


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Phoenix Arizona: Dear Ms. Dern, I love your work. You've delivered some of the best lines I've heard at the movies. One of my favorites was directed at a fresh-out-of-jail Nicolas Cage who says something about being a convicted murderer. Your character corrects him and says something like, "Manslaughterer honey. Don't exaggerate." Question 1. As you reflect on your own career, are there any lines that come to mind as being a heck of a lot of fun to say? Question 2. As a teenager or as an adult, have you ever been unattractive? Or have you always been a smoking hot babe? Arch Mosley Phoenix Arizona

Laura Dern: Thank you for the compliments. I agree I have been lucky enough to have some great lines. My favorite lines from 'Citizen Ruth' would be probably be censored so I better not say.

I must say there are many others in 'Wild at Heart' and 'Rambling Rose' and even this current film 'We Don't Live Here Anymore' that are just brilliant lines of dialogue.


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tuscaloosa,al : i've loved all your films is there one that is special to you and why.

Laura Dern: Well since you're from Alabama, I'll speak on my good fortune to play Southern women because my grandma is from Mobil, Alabama and I love Southern ladies, 'Rambling Rose' would be at the top of that list of my favorite parts.

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the Rez, NM: Hello Laura, I became a fan of yours after Jurassic Park. Your were totally hot. Anyways, did you have to take courses at a college level to be a all-star actor?

Laura Dern: I started my acting career at age 11, so I studied a great deal and continue to. But not specifically in University.

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Modesto, CA: What was it like to work with David Lynch on Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart?

Laura Dern: David is a great teacher about being boundary-less as an actor. He encourages bravery because his films live between the real and the unreal. And so you can go anywhere as an actor in them.


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Garry - Miami: I always enjoyed your Dad's acting style. Have you modeled any specific acting techniques after him?


Laura Dern: Not acting techniques but his choices in terms of a willingness to play morally ambiguous characters have inspired me a great deal.

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Salt Lake City, Utah: Laura, would you consider being open to act in a wider variety of films? Steve-

Laura Dern: I've done both blockbusters and independent and I hope to do both in the future. I make my choices based on the filmmaker and the integrity of the material.


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Nar, NJ: How tall are you?

Laura Dern: 5'10"

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NY, NY: Hi Laura, I am a big fan of your work as well as Mark R...how was it working with him your new film..it looks great.


Laura Dern: I'm really excited about the movie and I hope you like it. Working with Mark is a dream. He is a very generous, very humble and gracious teammate.

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Williamsburg, VA: Ms. Dern, What was the name of the film that you did about 10+ years ago in which you played a young girl that dressed provacatively and got into a situation with an older man that was over your head? I've always remembered this film and thought it was a great way to illustrate the difficulties of what happens when physical maturation preceeds emotional maturation. As a former middle school teacher, I often saw the potential for a similar problem. Since I will not be part of the live chat, I would love an email response of some sort, since I'm very interested in learning more about this film Thank you, Tamra Elim-Durden

Laura Dern: I think that the movie that you're talking about is 'Smooth Talk,' which starred me and Treat Williams and it was based on a Joyce Carol Oates short story. 'Rambling Rose' is also a film that explores some similar themes.

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Tucson, AZ: My favorite movie ever is "Wild at Heart" and you were so wonderful in it. I love David Lynch movies and the ones you were in seem to be his best; is that something you see doing again, or would you say your career has moved to other types of shows? Thanks! -Rod

Laura Dern: Thanks for your kind words. I hope to work with David again and again. In fact we're talking about something right now.

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winona lake, indiana: when you worked with billy bob thorton on "daddy and them" you did a terrific job of bringing into focus that mentality while at the same time wrapping up with deeper thoughtful insight. all this was wrapped into one character. you are certainly extremely deep and would be believable in any role. do you consider yourself only a character actor?

Laura Dern: Thanks for your generosity. I'm an actor who loves playing with human complexity and therefore I sometimes play flawed people. I hope that one day those parts will be considered mainstream roles.

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Lexington, Kentucky: Hey Laura! I must say that my absolute favorite film of yours was Citizen Ruth. You really should gave gotten an Oscar nomination for that role. Also, congratulations on the new baby! How is your mother, Diane Ladd? I have always enjoyed her work as well.

Laura Dern: Thank you. 'Citizen Ruth' is a favorite of mine too. My mother is fantastic.

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Vienna, Virginia: Have you ever worked with your father, Bruce Dern ?


Laura Dern: No and working with my dad is a dream of mine. But I hope it will come true in the near future.

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Omaha, NE: Of all the people you have worked with (actors, producers, directors, et al) who has left the biggest impression


Laura Dern: It's hard to say one person. I feel like a career is built on several people inspiring you to a new place. But one person on that list would be a native of yours, Alexander Payne who co-wrote and directed 'Citizen Ruth.'

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Sullivan's Gulch OR: You've always picked such interesting films. Did you choose this career path because of your parents' interest in good material versus blockbuster success?

Laura Dern: I think that the combination of my parent's individual choices plus the fact that I was raised on movies of the 70s and early 80s was truly inspiring. I hope we're moving back toward those kinds of movies. The one I have coming out is thoughtful and complicated on that level. I feel proud of it.

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Linden, Va: Laura, Congrats on the new baby. I'm so happy for you. One of our family's favorite movies is Citizen Ruth. You were so good in that role. Did any of that performance come naturally to you or did you do any research on the whole abortion issue and how women feel before and after having one? Keep up the GREAT work!!

Laura Dern: Definitely playing the part of Ruth inspired a lot of research. Particularly in the area of her drug addiction. We all have very important and emotional feelings around the abortion issue and have all had some relationship to it.

My interest is in the area of how sad it is that the most heartbreaking choice a woman would have to make is one that she would have to fight for.


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Madison Heights, MI: What is your next project?

Laura Dern: 'We Don't Live Here Anymore' is coming out on Friday in LA and NY. And everywhere else in the next few weeks.
I"m very excited about it, please check your listings and take a hundred of your closest friends.

I've just done a film called 'Happy Endings,' which will be out this fall. I look forward to more opportunities!

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Acton, MA: How do you handle the ups and downs of your career?

Laura Dern: I try to stay true to what is really important, the big picture if you will, which for me is like they used to say, "keeping your eyes on your own paper."