Listen: ‘Marriage Story’ Star Laura Dern on Heartbreak and the ‘Pain of Loving Someone So Much’

Laura Dern will never forget when she first read Noah Baumbach’s script for “Marriage Story.”

“I cried for half an hour, which Noah will tell you because he saved the voicemail…Oh my god, I literally cried so hard,” Dern says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast.

I actually caught up with Dern back toward the end of the summer. It was the morning after “Marriage Story’s” U.S. premiere at the Telluride Film Festival. In the film, Dern plays Nora, a divorce attorney representing an actress (Scarlett Johansson) who has split from her theater director husband (Adam Driver).

In the months following the premiere, the Netflix’s marital drama has garnered dozens of accolades, including a Golden Globe for Dern. She’s also a favorite to earn an Oscar nom as is Driver. Johansson is also strong contender while Baumbach’s script is expected to be nominated.

“We all know that pain of loving someone so much and they’ve hurt you so much,” Dern said. “Whether it was in real life or you’ve had a dream where you kill them or beat the crap out of them. The terror of loving so deep that you feel that hatred from heartbreak.”

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When Nora is first introduced in the film, she appears to be a ruthless lawyer who will run over anything in her way to get what she wants for her client. But what is eventually realized is that Nora is simply as cutthroat as her male counterparts.

“Noah and I did a lot of talking about this and it’s interested me a lot lately to think about when women are given the opportunity finally to have a position of power that we so haven’t been bred to even consider it,” Dern said. “That when we’re given it, it’s like, ‘Look, I’m giving you this one slot and this one chance so you better act like the boys, you better play ball like the boys.’”

“I have witnessed it in my own career in the film industry and it’s ever changing,” she continued. “But when I first started I met women in positions of power who were playing with ruthlessness because they couldn’t seem overly sentimental.”

While she does believe that Hollywood’s power dynamics and gender parity is changing for the better, Dern knows it will never be perfect. “I think that’s like saying the White House will change forever,” Dern said. “There will always be individuals who come in and are inappropriate, criminal, narcissistic [and] sexist.”

I have a lot more Dern for you. You can listen to the full interview below. “The Big Ticket” can also be found at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.


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