In any other year, the well-liked and -respected actor Laura Dern would be rounding the press circuit to promote her latest projects. The Oscar-winning actress has dominated the screen in all of her roles, from the intense Renata Klein on HBO show Big Little Lies to her Oscar-winning turn as the formidable divorce attorney Nora Fanshaw in the Netflix film Marriage Story.
While Dern has many exciting things in the works — like 2022’s Jurassic World: Dominion, in which she reunites with the dinosaur franchise’s original cast — during the pandemic, she has shifted her focus to raise awareness of the need for wider COVID testing. After losing a friend to the virus and witnessing others close to her become severely sick, she’s become an outspoken testing advocate.
We talked to Dern about LetsGetChecked, an FDA-approved, at-home COVID-19 testing kit that is a convenient option for travelers; the searing and thought-provoking films coming from her production company, Jaywalker Pictures; and where she plans to go once the pandemic ends.
Why do you use LetsGetChecked?
I learned about the LetsGetChecked Coronavirus Test while working on Jurassic World. It was a seamless testing option and we were all so grateful for it.
Through my experience filming, I started to learn more about coronavirus testing options and become an advocate for making it more accessible and commonplace. I was particularly drawn to how LetsGetChecked gives people the tools they need to take control of their health right at their doorstep and feel it is of the utmost importance for people to know about safe, effective and accurate home sampling options.
Why are you raising awareness about coronavirus testing?
I’m thrilled to be partnering with LetsGetChecked to help educate others on alternate testing options that are safe and accurate. COVID testing continues to be the best option to prevent the virus spread other than social distancing and wearing a mask. All three should be done with great vigilance.
What do you do to cope with the pandemic and the rocky start to 2021?
The pandemic has certainly been a time for us all to learn how to make our own health, both physical and mental, a priority. I am trying my best, while supporting my children in finding balance for themselves, to find time to meditate and to laugh.
We know you enjoy hiking in L.A. Where are some local social-distancing-friendly places you like to visit?
Nature has been my absolute saving grace during this time. I recently drove with my son and stepson to Zion, and hiking in that area was incredible, as was the night sky.
While you’ve never shied away from activism, your production company recently debuted the animated short If Anything Happens I Love You and a documentary featuring former White House photographer Pete Souza, The Way I See It, both of which have strong political messages. Why are these important now?
I have always felt strongly about the privilege of storytelling as a job, and I consider it a responsibility to use it as a platform toward empathy and yes, more than ever, reminders of the essential need of empathy in leadership seems like the only road toward healing.
What are some of your favorite travel destinations?
I love to travel and I love nature, but speaking of empathy, I mostly love travel because I want to know what others’ experiences are. How they live life. This makes me an obsessive travel lover. That includes local walks to road trips to national parks to — I pray one day again soon — deeply knowing other cultures throughout the world.
You narrated a video for the Tetiaroa Society, the wildlife and nature conservancy that protects French Polynesia’s Tetiaroa atoll and also is a model for sustainability. Are you a fan of the atoll’s hotel, The Brando?
I am an enormous fan of The Brando and the work of Tetiaroa Society. It is a perfect place to study our ocean and the impact of climate change on our coral reefs and ocean life. Marlon Brando was a great environmentalist and a true inventor in his longing to find solutions to protect our planet. [Editor’s note: The actor purchased Tetiaroa in 1966 to preserve its natural beauty and biodiversity. There, he opened Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Brando, a self-sustaining private island getaway that provides a base for research and education.]
The Brando feels like a mecca for sustainable living and of course, an incredible luxury to stay and bear witness to the beauty that surrounds you there.
What’s on your post-pandemic travel bucket list?
My travel passions include Norway, the Fjords, and spending more time throughout Scandinavia. I am Norwegian and yet I’ve never been there! I want to spend more time in New Zealand and I have never spent real time in Asia, which I really look forward to. Oh, and Iceland! Can you tell I love travel?
What can you tell us about the new Jurassic World film?
I’m very excited for everyone to see Jurassic World! It was a thrill to be back in the literal shoes of Dr. Ellie Sattler and to join all my castmates, even the more difficult ones with very sharp teeth.
What other plans do you have lined up for 2021?
I greatly look forward to getting back to work. I pray that we find more healing in this time and in addition to so much focus on a vaccine, I hope we can immediately put more focus on any successful existing medications or potential antiviral drugs that can help support and protect people from COVID.