Laura Dern was in Chicago with her kids when she received word that she was nominated for lead actress in her recently canceled HBO comedy “Enlightened.”
“I was very surprised in that I wasn’t aware of it at all,” said Dern of the nomination announcements that happened early Thursday morning. “It was a nice way to be surprised. And I’m totally thrilled -- it’s a lovely compliment, or gift, or however an actor wants to take something like this.”
The nomination was also welcome in that it was further proof to Dern of what she already strongly believes: That “Enlightened” is an important and respected show, worthy of gaining a wider audience than it initially did.
In “Enlightened,” Dern plays Amy Jellicoe, a woman who has a mental breakdown in the series premiere and strikes out on a path to enlightenment. This ultimately leads her to want to act as “an agent of change.”
“This show is recently being found more than ever before — because so many people don’t watch live television,” Dern said. “And I hope this compliment gets the word out for people to share ‘Enlightened.’ I want to share Amy with everybody we can find — she’s an important character. She’s determined to use her voice in the world at all costs; she’s completely unafraid. It’s important to remember when people are so afraid to speak out about injustice.”
Dern sees her nomination as a coup for the entire “Enlightened” team, including her co-creator Mike White and co-stars Luke Wilson and Diane Ladd (who is Dern’s real-life mother). She is also excited that Molly Shannon was nominated for being a guest actress on the show.
But she can’t quite wrap her mind around the fact that it’s over.
“I’m still choosing to not necessarily believe that we don’t start shooting ‘Enlightened’ again soon,” Dern said.
For now she’s working on a few new films, but she’s not ruling out working in television again.
“There is something amazing about spending a couple of years developing a character, and I had never done it,” Dern said. “I was a guest on Ellen’s coming out episode, and that was incredible, but that was my only experience with TV. But I would love to do again — it’s like a great love, once you’ve found it you think, ‘I could never do it again — it’s gotta feel like this.’ It would take time and patience, and HBO has been generous with their open door to find something together in the future.”
If she does go back to TV, she’d love to play a really comic role.
“I’ve been watching ‘I Love Lucy,’ ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ and ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ to introduce my daughter to them,” Dern said. “That’s my next wish: to really have fun on comedy — my comedy is so tragic, the harder I cry, the funnier it will be — but I’m like, ‘Oh my god, they’re doing a pratfall! I want to do a pratfall!’ Of course, all the emotion and angst of Amy is deliciously fun for me — but it is fun watching people enjoy themselves.”