laura dern palm springs

The Unstoppable Laura Dern

The Marriage Story star feels inspired (and maybe a little perplexed) by her forthcoming career achievement honor at the 31st annual Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Derrik J. Lang Arts & Entertainment, Current Digital

laura dern palm springs
Laura Dern with Scarlett Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY RAMONA ROSALES

Laura Dern is elated and, well, kinda confused about receiving a career achievement honor at next month’s Palm Springs International Film Festival.

“It’s incredibly inspiring because, as the individual, you go, ‘Gosh, what have they seen? What have I done? What do I need to do? What have I missed? Where am I going?” ponders Dern, who is appearing on the January 2020 cover of Palm Springs Life magazine. “I’m just so elated by the idea of it being a vote of confidence toward everything I’ve done.”

The Big Little Lies and Marriage Story star will pay a visit to the 31st annual festival Jan. 2 to accept the Career Achievement Award. Dern is no stranger to PSIFF. Last year, she honored her Little Women co-star Timothée Chalamet with the Spotlight Award for his role in Beautiful Boy. In 2017, she presented the same award to 99 Homes co-star Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge. And in 2015, she was on hand to bestow her Wild co-star Reese Witherspoon with the Chairman’s Award.

“I love the festival, and I love Palm Springs,” Dern recently told Palm Springs Life. “I'm very touched, especially as an L.A. native who predominantly spent most weekends of my childhood in Palm Springs. I feel a particular joy that I’ll get to be with all of you and celebrate my great, good fortune to have storytelling as a job.”

Past recipients of PSIFF’s Career Achievement Award include Annette Bening, Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Sally Field, Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, and Dern’s own father, Bruce Dern. He received the honor in 2014.

While her thespian parents — Dern’s mother is character actress Diane Ladd — were initially hesitatant about their daughter following in their footsteps as a teen, they now can’t imagine the Blue Velvet and Jurassic Park actress in any other profession. (In 2010, the trio was respectively honored with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.)

“They're very proud,” Dern says of her parents. “I think they're excited that I found what I loved, followed it, and stayed disciplined. I didn't get off track at all. It feels really beautiful and heartwarming.”

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Laura Dern in Big Little Lies.

Dern’s 40-year-long career has included roles in such films as Smooth Talk, Citizen Ruth, October Sky, The Master, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Rambling Rose, which earned Dern her first Academy Award nomination.
Other honorees at this year’s PSIFF will include Jennifer Lopez (Spotlight Award), Joaquin Phoenix (Chairman’s Award), Martin Scorsese (Sonny Bono Visionary Award), Charlize Theron (International Star Award), Renée Zellweger (Desert Palm Achievement Award), Jamie Foxx (Spotlight Award, Actor), and Cynthia Erivo (Breakthrough Performance Award).

“I'm really excited to keep going,” says Dern, who is set to reprise her role as paleobotanist Ellie Sattler in the next Jurassic World installment. “[PSIFF] and everyone has given me this great boast of confidence to go and dive deeper.”

See Laura Dern’s Palm Springs Life cover story beginning Dec. 30, on newsstands and at palmspringslife.com.