Day 7 of the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) presented by UGG featured an insightful tribute to Laura Dern, who received the lauded Cinema Vanguard Award for her remarkable career and including her Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild-winning performance in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story as well as Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Pete Hammond, Deadline’s Awards Editor and Chief Film Critic, moderated the evening, and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos presented Dern with the award.
Highlights from the conversation included:
- On why she currently wants to be an actress: “I’m having so much damn fun, it’s amazing. And it wasn’t so fun as a teenager. I think I was caught up in the angst of it all. And trying to chase this idea of being an artist instead of realizing the privilege of doing what you love and the privilege of telling stories, and working with amazing storytellers. To not feel that it was overstated or arrogant to talk about the potential of the healing through art. For us that make art, for those that witness art – we have a very broken home and we’re all trying to figure it out. To have fierce and radical storytellers in film and television and documentaries is the work. We’re so blessed. So to have anything to do with that just radical good fortune.”
- On the famous Ellen episode when she comes out as a lesbian: It spoke to a moment. We have this opportunity to talk about what matters and I think Citizen Ruth gave birth to that longing in me, why I fell in love with movies, and had that opportunity… and be a part of something profoundly historic. We all had a life-changing experience being a part of that episode in terms of backlash and how radically different we hoped the world looked then.”
- On her experience filming Star Wars with modern day technology: It was an amazing experience. I’ll never forget walking on the set and [the director] saying ‘action,’ and looking up to say my lines – all of which I expected – but then R2D2 and C-3PO are standing in front of me and it’s crazy. I never need to take a hallucinogenic, I did a Star Wars film.”
- On a possible Season 3 of Big Little Lies in the works: “I’ll never say no to Renata Klein, she’d kill me. I love that character and we’ll see what they come up with. I fell so in love that character.”
- On her love for Marriage Story: It was an incredible gift just to witness the movie. I read the script and cried for 20 minutes. I’ve seen the movie five times – I cry every time. I often forget my involvement in it because I find it so deeply personal.”
During Dern’s conversation with Hammond, the audience was treated to various clips from her career, including the films Citizen Ruth, Blue Velvet, Wild Angels, Wild, 99 Homes, Marriage Story, Little Women and more.
Following Dern’s one-on-one conversation with Hammond, Sarandos took the stage to present her with the Cinema Vanguard award, stating: “I had the privilege of being close to Marriage Story from the very beginning. I , like Laura, cried from the very beginning, I knew that this role was written for her, and that she brought that character to life like nobody else in the world could.
The audience was on their feet as Dern and approached the podium to accept her award. In her remarks, Dern recognized Sarandos’s support of art and artists, saying: “I’ve watched artists just fight fight fight to get their stories told and made, and [Ted’s] just waiting with open arms to make sure artists get the stories told.”
Two-time Academy Award® nominee, Emmy and Golden Globe winner, Dern has touched audiences and critics alike with her moving and heartfelt performances. Currently starring in two of the biggest films of the year Netflix’s Marriage Story and Sony’s Little Women, Dern has also won four Golden Globe Awards with seven nominations, as well as earned a Primetime Emmy Award and seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations. On television, Dern was most recently seen as Renata in the second season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” which aired on HBO this past summer.
The Cinema Vanguard Award recognizes actors who have forged their own path, taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film. Previous honorees include Michael B. Jordan, Willem Dafoe, Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Rooney Mara, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams, Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Nicole Kidman, Peter Sarsgaard, Christoph Waltz, Vera Farmiga, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stanley Tucci and Ryan Gosling.
The 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs from January 15-25, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.