Laura Dern talks to Michelle about Dogs, Dinosaurs and more, oh my!

Laura Dern Year of the Dog Interview with EclipseMagazine.comLaura Dern is a veteran actress who has been in the business for years, starring in over 30 different films; she generally plays a supporting role and is best known for her work with her mentor – the legendary David Lynch and playing the tough Dr. Ellie Sattler in the Jurassic Park films. Her latest project is School of Rock’s writer Mike White’s directorial debut, The Year of the Dog. We recently sat down with Laura to talk about dogs, being obsessive and a little dinosaur movie that’s rumored to be shooting sometime this year.

EM

How did this project come to you?

Laura Dern

Mike and I met several years ago on a film that he had written. I really loved him immediately and we always talked about working together on his first film. Tragically, I had to put my dog to sleep the day before I got this script. I was like “Dude, there’s no way I’m not going to do this.” [Laughs] It was as if this script was written for me. I feel in love with it right away. On top of that he asked me to play the most exhausting person that I’ve ever played.

EM

Was the character written like that?

LD

I think it was his intent. We worked together to make her as high strung as possible, but keep it so that the audience can relate to her.

EM

What is your relationship to the Molly Shannon character?

LD

I’m her sister-in-law. We’re the obsessed new parents who show our brand of what true love is. The core of the movie is about tolerance and how people express their love, whether it’s with your dog or your family.

EM

How would you explain working with Mike Vs. David Lynch.

LD

I have to say they are pretty much the same. They both have unbelievably unique voices as individuals and artists. It’s pretty refreshing. It’s a fantastic experience to work with someone who has such a defined vision. They both have a wonderful sense of irreverence. Mike’s extremes remain deeply authentic, while David’s extremes are based on the abstract; different visions but both visionary.

EM

So many of Mike’s characters are based on people he knows, did he tell you who your character was based on?

LD

He didn’t say for sure, but he definitely gave me a sense that he knows. I also brought my experience as a new mother to the role. I know that I have to curb how I act towards my children.

Year of the Dog's Laura Dern Talk's to EclipseMagazine.com

EM

So are you an obsessive mother?

LD

Yes. I’m not a perfectionist. I don’t believe anything I do is perfect, so I’m comfortable with certain areas not being perfect. That’s an area where I’m not like my character. The moment I had children I decided that I wanted to control every step of the world they lived in, but I realize that’s impossible. Where Bret [Dern’s Character] thinks she can. I’m sure I’m neurotic and obsessive in a way that’s not healthy. I am proud of the environment that I have in my home. Everything is organic, environmentally friendly and healthy.

EM

Do you find that Brett’s personality seeps into your own life? Like her domineering, how she relates to people…

LD

It’s the chicken or the egg. We both influenced each other back and forth in that area we just talked about. Of course she would be scared to leave her kids with Molly overnight, and the one time she lets up, it proves to be a disastrous mistake. I fear for her because now she’s going to be even worse and more protective of her kids.

EM

Are there any scenes that you were excited to see on screen?

LD

Kind of all of it because I thought the film was hysterically funny and I love all the actors so much.

EM

Did you spend much time with the dogs?

LD

No, I’m one of the few people who didn’t work much with the dogs. But I love animals, especially dogs and beagles.

EM

So do you have a new dog?

LD

No, not yet. We’re getting a new one in a couple of weeks. We’re rescuers so I think Mike wouldn’t have it any other way. My son is in loved with beagles so I think we’re going to end up with a mix.

EM

So are you going to have a house with 20 dogs in it?

LD

[laughs] I have had 5 dogs and 2 cats in a house and was a vegan at one time in my life. I wasn’t by myself. I was sharing with a group of people. There was a real animal love fest going on. This is the first time in my life where I don’t have a dog or some sort of animal.

EM

Are you reading some scripts right now?

LD

I’m trying to figure that out this very second. Nothing I can speak about. After being on this project, I’d really like to do another one like it. I had so much fun on this movie. I mean laughing all the time was quite fun.

EM

Based on what you just said, Comedy would be where you’d like to go next?

LD

I’ve had an unusual career, where I’ve always felt like I’ve been in comedies. But most people would disagree. Often my character is miserable within a comedy film. I’d like to do a character that’s actually happy and having fun.

EM

They are working on a Jurassic Park IV, have you heard anything?

LD

I’m told its happening and that they are going to call me.

EM

Are you interesting in going back?

LD

Well, a certain fella called me and it’s hard to say no to him. Cause he always has something genius up his sleeve but I don’t know anything about it at this point. I think it’s going to shoot within the year.

EM

Does it make it difficult for you to plan your future projects when you know that you have this big thing that’s sitting out there, but you don’t know when it’s going to start, or even if it’s going to happen?

LD

It can be but I’ve learned a different route. Inland Empire took 3 years to make and that was the longest commitment I ever made to a project has taught me a whole new way of detachment and just going with the flow. Otherwise it gets far too stressful. I dedicated myself to that. That’s why I’ve taken small parts in several films like this one, Tenderness, and another upcoming film Lonely Hearts because I was working with David and I could only do a couple of weeks.

EM

Have talked to any of your other Jurassic Park co-stars? Is everyone coming back?

LD

[laughs] Oddly enough I just spoke to Sam Neil before I came in. But we didn’t speak about that. It’s always an awkward thing because you don’t know who is in it or not. It’s like this Dinosaur thing that none of us want to talk about.

Year of the Dog is in limited release now. No wide release date has been set. So go see it and support it.

EM Feature Interview
By Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 4/27/07

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