Just this morning Laura Dern was nominated for a Golden Globe this morning for best-supporting actress for Big Little Lies. So it’s only appropriate to share my Laura Dern in The Last Jedi interview today where she talks about being a fan first, and how being on the set was surprisingly more like an independent film shoot rather than something as huge as Star Wars.
Laura Dern in The Last Jedi
Thanks everybody for being here. Hey gang. I’m all by myself. We’ve (the cast) all been together all these last few days.
Without giving anything away, can you tell us about your character Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo?
I have purple hair. I can tell you this; there’s a new boss in town. I have arrived in the Resistance, and I am a Vice Admiral, and that’s pretty much all I can tell you. I can tell you how amazing it was to be inside Rian’s head. Each of these characters, particularly these new characters that he invented. It was incredible to have the privilege of collaborating on who she is and how to present a powerful woman.
And the longing which I really appreciated of Rian and Kathy Kennedy and all of our producers to allow a powerful female character to also, her physicality to be feminine, as opposed, to ‘Oh, she’s a strong female.’ Let’s put her in the guys’ clothes. And I thought that was wonderful and I feel excited to join this amazing legacy of strong females in space starting with our magnificent icon of Princess Leia. So that was a great pleasure.
How did you become involved with the project?
Rian called asking to have lunch and talk about something. And I was told, I knew Looper and I was told he was an amazing Independent filmmaker and he’s really excited about something that he wants to talk to you about. And then Kathy Kennedy simultaneously called me just to check in and say ‘Hey, how are you?’ And we went to lunch, and he started describing something he was looking for in a character and would love for me to help invent this with him.
And it all sounded great. It wasn’t until sort of the end of the lunch; it was like (whispering) it’s in Star Wars, and like oh my God. It’s amazing having been a huge fan as a child. I was sort of listening to this amazing story and that’s what’s incredible about Star Wars. He started describing a world that was about the complexity of being a human being and the battle between light and dark and not knowing which would win, and the struggle of family and the hero’s journey.
And you feel it all. You realize that it is what filmmakers that I’ve worked with in independent film have longed to explore. He described this complicated female character in such a beautiful way also spoke to something that rebel filmmakers have asked of their collaborators and in my case, as an actor of me. And then to realize, My God, that’s what George Lucas invented. And that’s why I think this stands the test of time in such a profound way is it’s not a franchise, it’s a legacy of the deepest storytelling we have.
And there isn’t a child or an adult that doesn’t connect to that question, and that it isn’t good guy vs. bad guy. All of it is contained and being wrestled within. Many characters but within one’s self, and particularly this film which we all got to see a couple of days ago, you feel it in every storyline and every character in a really profound and beautiful way.
If you had a lightsaber in real life, what color would it be and why?
I mean, maybe we need to see a rainbow lightsaber. I think it’s time guys; I think it’s time.
You mentioned being a fan of Star Wars as a kid and Star Wars is about family. I think many people remember their parents taking them to see it. It’s certainly one of the first movies I remember my father taking me. Do you remember having experiences where your family took you to movies, and it profoundly changed you and made you want to be a part of this world?
Well yes and I’m spoiled in my answer. One yes, I saw the first Star Wars. I was probably 6, or I don’t remember exactly, a little girl and I stood in line. It was the first time I stood in line for a movie at the Cinerama Dome, and it was blocks long. It was profound for me. And the genre seemingly would not have been something I was interested in, but the spoiled part is I have been raised by actors.
And I’ve been introduced to a world where the movie is magical, and my parents are such fans. You know, my mother and my father and they’re rebels. They love hardcore independent films, and my Mom and Dad are like my Mom, have you seen Wally, it’s a masterpiece? It’s the greatest film like there’s no film that doesn’t hold the potential of being the greatest thing ever whether it’s animation, independent film, something on this scale because they love characters and they love cinema.
But in this specific case, my Dad only, I think a few years before, had done a Douglas Trumble film called “Silent Running” And I’m told it was a great influence on George Lucas in that it was my dad alone in space with 3 Droids named Huey, Dewey, and Louie. And I became obsessed with these droids, and those Droids I’m told were a great influence toward R2D2. And I had a figurine of this droid, and I remember that idea of being in space with these characters who are your partners.
And then suddenly Star Wars opened up this kind of storytelling in this massive way, so it felt personal, as Star Wars does to all of us.
How is it for your parents being fans with you appearing in the film?
I don’t know. I’m not, yeah, I mean they seem excited. My mother’s very excited about the purple hair. Yeah, she loves the look, and the costume and my daughter was like I didn’t know you got jewelry in space. I said, yes. Holdo gets jewelry and nail coloring.
Do you think little girls are going to want to emulate the strong women in Star Wars and what is that going to bring to the whole franchise?
Well, it’s just incredible. That’s so exciting. I know what Leia was for me as I know she was for all of you. It was again, not just her strength in some superheroic way but in the deeply human way that Carrie so incredibly embodied was this fearless, irreverent sassy, bold, vulnerable female. And all things to be true and powerful and kick butt and all of those things were in one character.
And we know how rarely we see that. So that meant the world to me, and now my daughter and all her friends have this in Rey and soon other female characters in this movie, and it’s really exciting to see what the different females do.
How did you prepare for the role of Amilyn Holdo?
Well, I think speaking to all of the actors. It’s incredible that we have this truly shared experience of needing to have the fan freak out moment, and then to let it all then disappear. That way you’re just telling the story of these characters cause it’s insane to get there and rehearse with Rian. Everything’s deeply personal in the part of my life that does come from independent film. I got my clothes on, having coffee with Oscar Isaac and Benicio del Toro, I’m like hey I’m on another independent movie with my fellow actors. This doesn’t feel different from any other movie I’ve done, which is hilarious, with Rian who’s this independent filmmaker so I’m like, ‘are you sure this is Star Wars cause look we are. What is happening?’
But then you walk onto the set, and in the morning, Rian was like ‘Oh, somebody’s a fan, wants to say hi right before we were starting one day,’ I am standing, making tea, and I turned around, and Chewbacca was there. He embraced me, and I cried. I really cried. It was so moving to me. And then you know, being on set and seeing R2D2 and these characters we all fell in love with. It’s stunning so then you have to get over it and go to work, but it’s an incredible opportunity and experience. I’m so happy to get to be part of it.
Everything you said about Carrie Fisher I thought about you. Growing up, watching Jurassic Park, you are a strong woman. And so will we, this is totally off track but will we see you in Jurassic Park anytime soon?
What a cool idea? I love that idea. But I like your thinking. In fact, Steven Spielberg and I were talking about it several days ago. Ellie Sattler is such a feminist. And I loved that, and I love that girls are still dressing up like her for Halloween. Got to rock some Timberlands people to get stuff done and your PJ Dinosaurs. You got to dress smartly. So but thank you for your kind words too.
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (11/3/17)
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I was invited by Disney to take part in #TheLastJediEvent to share my experience with my readers. All opinions are my own