Even Laura Dern—Emmy and Oscar nominee, frontrunner for president of the Academy, daughter of Bruce Dern, best friend of Reese Witherspoon, regular collaborator of David Lynch—isn’t immune to the thrills of working on a Star Wars film. The 50-year-old actress appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Monday night to discuss as much as possible (there is a notoriously tight seal kept on such films) about her role in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in which she plays Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo.
“Can you tell me anything else about Vice Admiral Holdo?” Colbert pleaded. “I can tell you,” Dern said, pausing and bursting into laughter, “I love her.”
“Is she a good guy? Is she a bad guy?” Dern shrugged. “It’s complicated.”
But here’s what Dern can say: Even with four decades of screen experience, she still got starstruck when she stepped onto the set for The Last Jedi. “To be an actor my whole life, but first, a kid who loved movies and walk on a set—costume’s ready, you’re mic’ed, you’re learning your lines, the camera’s rolling—you open your eyes to do a scene like any other work day, and it’s Star Wars? I could cry,” she said. “I thought I was going to pass out. It’s the greatest thing to ever happen to me.” At times, she managed to forget she wasn’t the “kid who loved movies” and in fact, an actor on a film set. In one scene in which Dern’s character fires a blaster, she unwittingly started making “pew pew” sound effects to accompany the gunfire as if “back in my bedroom at eight years old,” she recalled. “I was so excited.”
Dern also revisited one of her first childhood roles, an uncredited part alongside her mother, Diane Ladd, in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. She played a girl eating an ice cream cone at a diner counter, a scene that was filmed 17 times—so Dern ate 17 ice cream cones, one for each take. Thus, a star was born.
Though Monday night was Dern’s first appearance on Colbert’s eponymous late-night show, the two also had the chance to catch up back at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala back in May, where they sat at the same table—Colbert with Dern on one side and former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly on the other. “Very different conversations,” he said, beginning his interview with Dern Monday evening. Dern offered a snapshot of their conversation: While the rest of the attendees filed in, discussing “selfies and fashion,” she, Colbert, and the rest of the table “engaged in a conversation about psoriasis.” Because, when surrounded by the masterworks of Rei Kawakubo, where else is the conversation expected to go?
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