There’s a Laura Dern Speech for Every Quarantine Mood

Culture
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If you’re having a rough day, I highly recommend taking a phone call from Laura Dern. That’s my health and wellness advice to you: Give your phone number to an Oscar winner and then wait for them to ring you up. Repeat as necessary.

Such was the remedy I sought for a case of the Mondays that beset a recent Tuesday. As it so happened, it was my birthday, though time does not exist in quarantine and I am refusing to age as a result. Still, I had been cooped up in the house for weeks, reading scary headlines, and I was in no mood to celebrate when I got on the horn with Dern. “Filled with terror, we panic,” she said at the top of our call, “and we don’t sleep, and we’re watching the news till late at night, and we’re eating what’s there or eating comfort food.” It was such an accurate picture of my daily life that I checked to make sure the camera on my laptop was still off. I would not mind if Laura Dern was spying on me to make sure I was living right, but I’d like to put on a nicer sweatshirt first.

Dern, fresh from her Oscar, Golden Globe, and Screen Actor’s Guild wins for Marriage Story, went from having one of the biggest years in her career to hunkering down in Los Angeles with her two teenagers and her mother, Diane Ladd. Stars, it seems, are just like us, as the actress told me the transition has been a bumpy one for her, too.

“I definitely feel jealous when I hear all the amazing things people are doing in their day. I wasn’t getting anything done. I feel like I’ve been doing laundry for nine days.” But, she was quick to point out, the solution is not to chastise yourself for not having enough time to live your best quarantine life, but to make use of the time you have in the best way—for yourself and others. “We have to be healthy so we can care for others in our family [and] social distance for our community. We are now the school teachers, and we are now the full caregivers of our parents,” she said.

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Dern with mother Diane Ladd and children Jaya Harper and Ellery Harper.

Amy SussmanGetty Images

This is why she partnered with the mindfulness app Calm to narrate a new bedtime story and with Natural Vitality Calm, a magnesium supplement she’s taken for years. She joins other celebrities like LeBron James and Leona Lewis, who contributed to Calm’s library of 120 Sleep Stories meant to aid with relaxation. “We need to create the practices in our daily life that keep us centered in an absolutely uncertain world, politically, environmentally, and now even about our own healthcare,” she said, her dulcet tones lowering my heart rate and coaxing my shoulders away from my ears.

I mentioned that a Sleep Story seemed like something some of her characters desperately need—paging Renata Klein—and something other characters, like Enlightened‘s Amy Jellicoe, would take to immediately. “It is Amy’s dream,” she said with a laugh. “The only thing about her is that Amy also feels like she probably created the Calm app before anybody else, is also pissed off that somebody else is getting credit. Equal parts narcissist and healer.”

As someone who careens wildly between the poles of the narcissist-healer spectrum, I appreciate this. And as someone who has watched everything Laura Dern has been in, it occurs to me that she might have a word for every phase of your quarantine life, whether you’re in the space to be calm or not. Here’s some suggestions, with the caveat that I am not a wellness professional; I am just an ageless person sitting in my quarantine house in a nice sweatshirt.

If you’re feeling: Anxious about climate change

Watch: Renata Klein’s “I will be rich again” speech from Big Little Lies

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If you’re feeling: In need of religious clarity

Watch: Nora Fanshaw’s motherhood speech from Marriage Story

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If you’re feeling: Hopeless

Watch: Sandy’s “blinding light of love” monologue from Blue Velvet

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If you’re feeling: Upset about the economy

Watch: Renata Klein saying “I will not not be rich” over and over again

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If you’re feeling: Kinda shitty

Watch: Dr. Ellie Sattler tend to a sick triceratops in Jurassic Park. It’s not really a speech, but I defy you to not be simultaneously awed and grossed out by her, uh, tenacity.

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If you’re feeling: At odds with the world

Watch: All of Enlightened, but particularly Amy’s “there she is” speech

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If you’re feeling: In need of a massive injection of queer joy

Watch: The Laura Dern song from the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards

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If you’re feeling: Angry

Watch: Marmee’s speech from Little Women

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And, if you’re feeling: Powerless against evil

Watch: Vice-Admiral Holdo destroy Supremacy

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