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Why Nora From Marriage Story Looks So Familiar

The 2019 dramedy "Marriage Story" isn't quite what you may expect it to be upon reading the title. Rather than tell the story of Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie Barber's (Adam Driver) marriage, it instead shows the messiness and complexity of their divorce and the trouble that comes with separating when there's a child involved. The heartbreaking film is currently heating up on Netflix, so those who haven't had the opportunity to watch it can finally do so. Though be warned — there are some pretty sad moments.

"Marriage Story" was such a success thanks to the amazing performances by the cast: Ray Liotta ("GoodFellas"), Alan Alda ("M*A*S*H"), Julie Hagerty ("Airplane!"), Merritt Wever ("Nurse Jackie"), and Wallace Shawn ("The Princess Bride") all lent their talents to the film, and several of the supporting actors won awards for their roles (per IMDb). Another iconic performance came from none other than Laura Dern, the woman who inspired a tribute by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles. Let's take a look at some of the projects she's been in over the years.

She was in some '80s classics

Laura Dern's parents are also successful actors, but she quickly paved her own way to fame during the mid-'80s. In 1985, she played Diana Adams in "Mask," a biographical drama based on the life of Roy Lee "Rocky" Dennis, a boy born with a rare disorder called craniodiaphyseal dysplasia that causes calcium to build in the skull, as noted by Orpha. Dern played Rocky's love interest who happened to be blind, and she got to know and love Rocky for his kind heart. Nick Davis of Nick's Flick Picks (via Rotten Tomatoes) wrote that it was "a modest film by most stretches," adding that the "exquisite acting by Cher, Stoltz, and Laura Dern make it truly special."

The next year, Dern was in the first of her several collaborations with David Lynch. She played a good girl named Sandy Williams in "Blue Velvet," a neo-noir psychological thriller. She was nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award for her role, and it marked the beginning of a decades-long working relationship.

She was a doctor in Jurassic Park

One of Dern's most famous roles was in the original 1993 film "Jurassic Park." Based on the novel of the same name, it centered on a fictional island named Isla Nublar that featured a wildlife park with real dinosaurs that scientists cloned. Things went south when the park's power went out, and a group of visitors had to survive on the island until they were rescued. Dern played one of the leads, a paleobotanist named Dr. Ellie Sattler.

Dern is set to reprise her beloved role in the 2022 sequel "Jurassic World: Dominion," which will be the sixth film in the popular franchise. She recently spoke to Elle about the impact her role has had on the media landscape, saying, "I feel honored that Ellie Sattler has been brought into the room a few times with quotes. And it means a lot to play characters that reflect a point of view or a mission statement in the dialogue I've gotten to say. And in playing her again, most recently, I feel proud to play strong women who, yes, are feminists, but more importantly are just standing up for what's right environmentally, in terms of respect, with humility and with dignity. And even when I play awful and complicated people who are selfish and misguided, those characters also give room to learn from them in a varied kind of way."

She played Reese Witherspoon's mother in Wild

In 2014, Dern had a part in the biographical drama "Wild," which was based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir. She played Bobbi Grey, Cheryl's (Reese Witherspoon) mother who died before the events of the film, and helped inspire her daughter's soul-seeking hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Though Dern didn't have much screen time, her powerful performance earned her several award nominations, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress, and Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Stephen Farber of The Hollywood Reporter commended Dern's performance, writing, "... it's really Dern who tears at our emotions during her scenes with Witherspoon. Bobbi's life journey, cut tragically short by illness, is as compelling as Cheryl's. This is one of the most honest, complex portrayals of a mother-daughter relationship that we've seen in any recent movie, and the loss of her mother helps to explain Cheryl's utter disorientation and her search for a major challenge to bring her back to life."

She's played some off-the-wall characters

Though Dern started her career playing two sweet innocent girls, she quickly showed she had no intention to be pigeonholed as an actress. In 1990, she was in her second Lynch film, a dark rom-com titled "Wild at Heart." She played Lula Pace Fortune, a wild and unpredictable girl who gets into plenty of trouble with her lover Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage), of whom her mother does not approve — and hires help to kill him. The role was a stark contrast from her earlier films, as "Wild at Heart" featured her in revealing clothes and multiple sex scenes.

"Wild at Heart" was the first of many different roles Dern has played over her career. One of her most eccentric roles was as an addict named Ruth Stoops in the satire comedy "Citizen Ruth," which she described to Cinema Blend as her favorite role. "I've never fallen in love with a character more," she said. "There was not a scene where I wasn't barfing or f***ing or vomiting or burping. I was just a disgusting mess."

She's also played an actress on the edge of psychosis in Lynch's experimental film "Inland Empire"; a much more tenderhearted role in the 2019 adaptation of "Little Women" as the iconic Marmee March; and the sweet and inspiring Miss Riley in 1999's "October Sky."

Is there anything Laura Dern can't do? Probably not.

She's also a television icon

Not only has Dern mastered the art of film acting in all its various forms, but she's also an accomplished television star, with tons of shows under her belt. She played an iconic role in Ellen DeGeneres's sitcom "Ellen" as Susan, a lesbian who helps Ellen come out herself.

Though Dern told Vulture it was an honor to be part of the groundbreaking two-part episode, she revealed that it did some damage to her career: "We all spent the next couple of years really struggling in work and safety," she explained. "It was radical to experience that. It was the only time I ever experienced having to have full security detail. But what was amazing, which I will never forget, that when she looked in my eyes, she said it was the first time she said 'I'm gay' out loud. ...the gift of that, the intimacy of what that means, was such insight for me. And I'll carry it for the rest of my life."

Dern has also been in more recent TV shows, including HBO's "Enlightened" as a business executive named Amy Jellicoe, as well as the hugely popular "Big Little Lies," in which she played the ambitious Renata Klein. She won Emmy Awards for both shows, though that shouldn't come as a surprise at this point.