A formidable actress, Laura Dern has been working in Hollywood since age 5. At 13 years old, the daughter of icons Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern became the youngest Miss Golden Globe and soon thereafter earned critical acclaim with her breakout role in Blue Velvet. The 1986 film also marked the first time Dern and director David Lynch would work together throughout her career, a pairing that continues with Twin Peaks’ celebrated return on Showtime.
The HBO series adapted from Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name sees the actress reteaming with director Jean-Marc Vallee and Reese Witherspoon, both of whom she worked with on Wild. “I’ve only known Reese as my producer and [fellow] actress, both on Wild and now on this. [But] for me, it's an amazing gift,” Dern told ET of their reunion. Although she’s in a supporting role to Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley, who all deliver standout performances, Dern doesn’t waste a minute of screen time, leaning into Renata’s rage. And only she could believably start a mommy war, have loud bathroom sex, don an eye patch and still somehow make the villainous character likeable. “She’s just unapologetic, and there is something deeply refreshing about it,” Dern said of the role. In an interview with Backstage, which dubbed her “TV’s ‘It B***h,’” she revealed why it was so fun to play Renata: “It was about undoing what the audience felt about her as much as the people around her.”
In addition to the releases of The Founder and Wilson andstandout episodes of The Last Man on Earth and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Dern will close out 2017 with Alexander Payne’s Downsizing and The Last Jedi. Not much has been revealed about the highly anticipated Star Wars sequel except that she’ll play “a prominent officer in the Resistance named Vice Admiral Holdo.” In January, she told ET that she was “having the time of my life” as a franchise newbie. Later, when the first trailer for the film premiered in April, the Internet was dismayed that Dern was nowhere to be seen. This prompted Vulture to shame the franchise for holding out: “We could all die in a nuclear war next week, never having glimpsed Laura Dern’s space look. Is that fair?” Kyle Buchanan wrote. (Luckily, Vanity Fair offered the next best thing.)
Of course, Dern laughs off the idea of a renaissance, telling Bustle that it “feels like a little bit of a coming of age.” And at 50, she’s seemingly defying the odds of what it means to be “a woman of a certain age” in Hollywood, hitting a career high in respect to work and notoriety -- and possibly earning a long-deserved Emmy win this September. But at the end of the day, Dern is just so damn good at what she does.