How Laura Dern Avoided Typecasting

Actress Laura Dern

One thing you cannot say about actress Laura Dern is that she is typecast. In just the last few months, Dern has appeared as a scorned housewife (The Founder), a millionaire helicopter parent (Big Little Lies), and a former prostitute trying to rebuild her life (Wilson). In other words, Dern continues to explore a variety of roles in her career. Speaking with Vulture, Dern reveals that she is simply following the advice given to her by her actor parents, Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, decades ago.

Dern explains that the work that her parents did as actors tremendously influenced her decision to pursue acting as a career. She explains, “I fell in love with cinema because I had two actor parents working in the ’70s and I was on movie sets of the ’70s with Hal Ashby, with Martin Scorsese, watching broken, flawed characters somehow make it through. It felt like watching a documentary. It was teaching me about empathy and it was teaching me about human nature. I found it to be this extraordinary vocation. It was beyond acting, and I think that’s how my parents approached it, given the filmmakers they were working with at the time.”

The interviewer points out that unlike other actresses, Dern hasn’t been labeled as a certain “type” in the industry and continues to appear in a variety of different roles. Again, she credits that to her parents, saying, “What I’ve learned about myself is how I really listened to my parents when I was a teenager. They said, ‘If you create a body of work …’ This is actually Martin Scorsese’s advice. I think I was 19 or something. ‘If you create a body of work that’s based on the characters that you find interesting and that push your boundaries to empathy, and that you don’t let yourself get stereotyped in some fashion, when you’re in your 40s, then you’re gonna just be playing all of them.’ I was like, ‘Really? Wouldn’t that be amazing?’ So first, it’s so joyful to me to think of the things that I have done that now are coming out in this year, like every single one is so insanely different and such a, yeah, deliciously diverse part.”

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