Five Minutes With: Laura Dern

By Michele Manelis

Cast member Laura Dern poses at the premiere of the HBO television series "Big Little Lies" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Cast member Laura Dern poses at the premiere of the HBO television series "Big Little Lies" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Laura Dern on Big Little Lies, sensuality and the ferocity of motherhood.

WHO SHE PLAYS: Renata Klein, a quintessential working mother and anti-bullying crusader.

MATERNAL STATUS: Mum of daughter who is being bulled at school, and wife of Gordon Klein (Jeff Nordling)

AGENDA: Is at the centre of schoolyard politics on and off the playground.

REAL LIFE: Divorced from musician Ben Harper with whom she has two children: Son: Ellery, 15, and daughter Jaya, 12. Throughout their marriage she was stepmother to Harper’s kids from his first marriage. She will next be seen in the upcoming movies: Wilson, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi

What do you think of the title, Big Little Lies?

The title is wonderfully apropos, Big Little Lies, given that it seems perhaps that in terms of this releasing the pressure valve for women that the truth may be the only thing that sets us free. It’s what we have within in our relationships, our community, our friendships that we just get to the truth of things. And ultimately, as women we’re very lucky because despite the roles we’re given in society, our instinct always is to find the intimacy of being truthful with our deepest friends and our family. And as these women evolve and these characters evolve all the lies start to shed away because they need each other. And once the truth comes out, you’re locked into the greatest tribe you could ever find. I think that’s what’s exciting. But people buy lies. Lies are easier. We see it a lot right now. It’s more comfortable to hear somebody go, ‘I’m going to make you rich and I’m going to do everything that’s going to save you.’ And people go, ‘Oh, let’s pick that.’ The shiniest thing in the room. And man, it only takes about ten minutes before that unravels. And it’s a disaster. We see it everywhere. It’s really fascinating.

Can you talk about the dynamic of being a mum and dealing with other mums at school?

Just as a real mother, watching the dynamics play out, you hope that you’re your best self. And you hope that you’re one of the tribe when you communicate and have that community with other women. But if somebody messes with your baby, all bets are off. And that’s just the truth of mothers I think, that there is that ferocity.

You’ve just turned the big 5-0. How do you feel about that?

I was raised by an actress so I never know my age so I’m not aware of what you speak of (laughs). I never think about it. My mother, for a period of her life, was eight years older because on the Internet they said that she was eight years older and she believed it. Then they made her three years younger and it took my grandmother going, ‘Diane do you know you’re real age?’ She goes, ‘I’ve been lying so much I don’t know my real age any more.’ So therefore, my mother doesn’t know her age. I don’t know my age because according to some reports she must have had me at eleven. (laughs)

Every time there’s a conflict among the couples on the show, they end up having sex and then everything’s fine. What’s your take on that?

If I was having sex right now everything would be fine. (laughs) I’m kidding. (Laughs) I think that sex is this question we are all fascinated by and continue to ask ourselves about. Is it the cover-up? Is it the deepest place of intimacy? Is it where you shut down from someone else depending upon the person? And I think what’s incredible about the storytelling that Jean-Marc (director) is weaving through is that sex is intimate because it is the place that the deepest most disturbing parts of self are shown in the story. And in the case of my relationship it’s the place where the compassion of vulnerability can show up. A longing to be wanted instead of having to be in the power seat. I think for my character, sex is really important to just feel like a woman in my husband’s arms and to be wanted in that specific way and not have to be boss. There’s something very tender in its rawness that was really fun to explore. And certainly for Reese’s character. But beyond all of that, the question of sex, sexuality, sensuality versus the victimisation of sexual assault, all of those things are explored in this. And I think those ask very different questions of the roles that women have been put in to be victim or have delivered by being their most sensual self.


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