Her chance to play a broad spectrum of characters can be seen over the course of a week. It starts with the Dec. 15 release of the blockbuster of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," and then a week later she makes a tiny cameo appearance in Alexander Payne's sociological satire "Downsizing" (you'll get the pun when you see the movie).
This willingness to take any and all roles is something she learned from her parents, actors Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.
"My parents taught me that acting is a lifetime career," Dern says. "I didn't just get lucky to be able to do so many different types of roles, but it was a strategy formed by being raised by actors. The goal is to play different kinds of roles both because it keeps you interested to explore all these different aspects of people but also speaks to never getting pigeonholed.
"My dad always encouraged me to do that."
The majority of films Dern has made have not come with so much secrecy. Dern's cautiousness in regards to talking about "The Last Jedi" includes not even talking directly about whether she got to work in any scenes with Carrie Fisher. She does say that being in the same movie that has Fisher as one of the stars was an amazing opportunity for her. It all goes back to when she saw "A New Hope" for the first time.
"Thanks to Leia, thanks to all the amazing characters -- but particularly seeing this female heroine -- I had the experience of imaginative play. Suddenly we had this female, profound, sassy heroine to invent with," Dern says. "To be in her preference, I feel very, very blessed not just because of the iconic character she left us but for the energy, the wisdom, the authenticity she brings.
"That's paid tribute to in this film."
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