Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Laura Dern Interview

Laura Dern gets Enlightened
By Raymond de Asis Lo L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated January 04, 2012 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments


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Laura Dern with Luke Wilson, who plays her good-for-nothing ex-husband.
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MANILA, Philippines - Just because one is an activist, that doesn’t mean one has to sacrifice one’s sense of style. For award-winning actress Laura Dern, who is a staunch supporter of the Healthy Child Healthy World organization, a worldwide campaign to provide protection and care of children affected by environmental disasters, the stylish way to do it is by donning the luxurious Italian brand Prada — occasionally, that is.

“Save the planet and a few dresses,” the beautiful star joked during an interview in Beverly Hills a few months ago before coyly adding, “we have our own weaknesses,” to the delight and understanding of the international press present during theHBO event held in July.
Laura’s choice of wardrobe was excusable. She had to look lovely as she was doing press for her new TV series, the comedy-drama Enlightened, which premiered this month in the Philippines and airs every Tuesday at 10 p.m. on the HBO Signature channel.

The Hollywood veteran is a life-long advocate for social activism and her new series is a culmination of her long-held dream to reach out to as many people as possible: Challenge her audience to think about issues vital to society, make them aware of what’s going on and, if possible, get them to act and be catalysts for change.

“I want to play a woman who is so enraged by the apathy in this country — which seems to just be a given now, like, we never march on the streets; it’s gone!” the actress offered when asked what was her motivation for Amy, her character in the series, which she co-wrote with acclaimed filmmaker Mike White. (Note: this interview took place during the middle of summer, a couple of months before the Occupy Movement was launched in Wall Street and inspired similar Occupy protests all over the world. Laura must have had a wonderful holiday seeing how many people seemed to have been reawakened to societal inequities and started demanding for real change.)

“It’s just tragic,” she added. “Maybe the blessing of what we witnessed in Egypt is, ‘Oh, we can actually do that again and it will start to transform things,’ but in the last so many years, we all witnessed that America stopped being angry and so, I thought, ‘What does it take to actually use your voice,’ especially for women because there are issues on what women are supposed to be like.”

Laura co-stars with real-life mom Dianne Ladd in the HBO series
Laura, despite growing up in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and being the daughter of great actors Bruce Dern and Dianne Ladd, was someone who was always aware and who always exercised her position in the industry to stir attention in the social causes that she believes in.

She stars as Amy in Enlightened, a self-destructive health and beauty executive who, feeling all trapped and unable to cope with pressures to her personal life, had a very public workplace meltdown and spent a few months at a treatment center. After she recovered, she returned and surprised everyone by just casually picking up the pieces of her old life and uncharacteristically deciding to take on a different personal path — one that she hoped would reshape the world around her.

She is “a rager (sic) who becomes a whistleblower,” was how she described her character. “I think we all share something that my character shares. It’s a character who turns on CNN and is devastated at every moment because something horrific is going down and she is the kind of person who feels everything in an enormous way which is a cause for great comedy as well as sadness because she can’t contain it.”

Laura’s real-life mom, Diane, is also starring in the series along with Luke Wilson, who plays her good-for-nothing ex-husband.

This is not Laura’s first HBO project. She previously appeared and received numerous awards in the 2008 television movie Recount, which was based on the contentious 2000 US presidential elections.

The actress is widely known to film enthusiasts for her startling turns and memorable performances in several David Lynch classics (Blue Velvet, Wild At Heart, Inland Empire) and her record-setting 1991 Oscar nomination for Rambling Rose. That recognition was significant because she was nominated for Best Actress in the Martha Coolidge drama while her mom was cited for Best Supporting Actress — the first time a mother and daughter tandem ever received Oscar nominations on the same year!

Over the years, she appeared in several Hollywood blockbusters (Jurassic Park, Little Fockers, etc.) but she most notably thrived as one of the best actresses working in smaller independent movies and, in Enlightened, she continues her association with independent filmmakers by working with noted directors Jonathan Demme, Miguel Arteta and co-writer Mike White, whose own nervous breakdown partially inspired the story, too.

In a career spanning nearly four decades, Laura has seen Hollywood rise and fall. Independent filmmakers come and go, and in the present, she, along with many independent artists, considers HBO her home.

“Working for a big studio is not where I get to tell a story now,” she explained when asked to assess her experience in the business. “Now, HBO is the Fox Searchlight because all the studios had their indie companies disappear because the hedge funds disappeared and the banks disappeared in America. Luckily, HBO is willing to do very brave content and has the money to support it.”

The leading cable network, HBO, has produced some of the best, very popular and most provocative series on television in recent years: True Blood, Hung, Sex and the City, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, among many others.

Viewers will see more of Laura because Enlightened has just been renewed for another season by HBO.

— With reports from Anselmo Manosca

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