Throughout her career, Dern has worked repeatedly with legendary director David Lynch. The pair's partnership kicked off with Dern's starring role in 1986's Blue Velvet, in which she played Sandy Williams, the daughter of a local detective who gets dangerously involved with one of his cases.
The pair's next collaboration came with 1990's Wild at Heart, in which she played Lula Fortune, one half of a couple who goes on the run from gangsters. (The movie marked another collaboration between Dern and her mother, Diane Ladd.) That same year, Dern starred in Lynch's concert film Industrial Symphony No. 1.
In 2006, Dern joined up with Lynch again for Inland Empire, which she also co-produced. Dern played a dual role in the twisty film, starring an actress who starts to adopt the personality traits of her characters. In 2017, she played a part in Lynch's Showtime reboot of his cult series Twin Peaks.
Dern has said that working with Lynch actually helped to prepare her for joining Star Wars, telling the Film Society of Lincoln Center that when she first did press with him, "he said, 'Your job is to tell them NOTHING!' So it was a seamless transition to Star Wars." Definitely good practice in preparing for the secrecy of the infamously tight-lipped franchise.