Laura Elizabeth Dern (born February 10, 1967) is an American actress, film director and producer. Dern has acted in such films as Smooth Talk (1985), Blue Velvet (1986), Fat Man and Little Boy (1988), Wild at Heart (1990), Jurassic Park (1993) and October Sky (1999). She has won awards for her performance in the 1991 film Rambling Rose, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She was awarded a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film for her portrayal of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the film Recount (2008).
Dern was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd and the great-granddaughter of former Utah governor George Dern. Scottish-American poet, writer and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish was her great-uncle. Laura Dern's film debut was a cameo in her mother's film White Lightning. She also made a brief appearance in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, one of Ladd's signature roles. Her mother objected to her 13-year-old daughter's presence on the set of Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, but Dern sued for emancipation.
In the mid-1980s she gained critical acclaim for roles in Peter Bogdanovich's Mask and David Lynch's Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart. Dern's starring role in Blue Velvet was a breakthrough however her next notable film took almost four years to be released, Wild at Heart. Dern's affiliation with Lynch has continued with her role in Inland Empire. In 1992, Dern and her mother became the first mother and daughter to be nominated for an Academy Award for acting in the same film in Rambling Rose. They did not play mother and daughter in the film. Dern starred as Dr. Ellie Sattler in Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park. That same year, Clint Eastwood enlisted the actress for his film A Perfect World. She also starred as Ruth in the 1996 satire Citizen Ruth, the directorial debut of Alexander Payne. In a reversal of roles, Dern's mother makes a cameo appearance, with Dern's character screaming a torrent of abuse at her. In 1997, Dern was featured in Widespread Panic's music video for their song, "Aunt Avis", which was directed by Dern's then boyfriend and future fiancé, Billy Bob Thornton. In 1998, Dern co-starred in the Jodie Foster's film The Baby Dance. While dating Thornton in 1999, she was cast as his love interest in his film Daddy and Them, which also includes Diane Ladd. Dern also appeared in Joe Johnston's film October Sky.