Amy

played by Laura Dern

Once an ambitious employee at a global conglomerate, her self-destructive choices...

Character Bio

Once an ambitious employee at a global conglomerate, her self-destructive choices, both at home and at work, have resulted in a very public, humiliating nervous breakdown. After an extended stay at a treatment center in Hawaii, Amy returned to her fractured life, having been reassigned to work with a group of misfits in the company's basement. After her entreaties to the company to be a more conscious global citizen go unheeded, Amy becomes determined to force change from the inside.

Laura Dern

Playing the newly awakened former executive Amy Jellicoe, Laura Dern is the star of 'Enlightened,' and alongside Mike White, its executive producer and co-creator.

Recently, Dern played opposite Will Ferrell and Rebecca Hall in the indie film "Everything Must Go," and alongside Ben Stiller and Robert Deniro in the hit comedy, "Little Fockers." In 2008, her portrayal of Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris earned her a Golden Globe award for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television" as well as nominations for an Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2007, Dern starred in Mike White's film, 'Year of the Dog.'

In 2006, Dern starred in David Lynch's film 'Inland Empire,' reuniting her with the acclaimed director who she had worked with on "Wild at Heart" and "Blue Velvet." At the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards, Film Independent gave their Special Distinction Award to David Lynch and Laura Dern for their collaborative work on this movie, as well as their previous films together.

Her other work in the decade includes Ted Robinson's 'Lonely Hearts,' Dan Roos' dark comedy 'Happy Endings,' 2005's 'The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio,' independent films 'Terry Linden' and 'We Don't Live Here Anymore,' and in 2001, 'I Am Sam,' Novocaine,' 'Focus' and 'Jurassic Park III,' as well as Showtime's 'Damaged Care' and Lifetime's 'Within These Walls' opposite Ellen Burstyn, and 'Daddy and Them,' written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton.

In 1996, Dern starred in the critically acclaimed black comedy 'Citizen Ruth,' for which she won Best Actress at the Montreal Film Festival. In 1993, she starred in Steven Spielberg's worldwide phenomenon and record-breaking box office success, 'Jurassic Park.' In one of the most critically applauded performances of the year, Laura Dern received both an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination in 1992 for her performance as Rose in the acclaimed film 'Rambling Rose,' directed by Martha Coolidge and co-starring her mother, Diane Ladd.

In 1985, Dern won the Los Angeles Film Critics' New Generation Award for her performance in the coming-of-age story 'Smooth Talk' and 'Mask.' Dern's other film credits include Robert Altman's 'Dr. T and the Women,' 'October Sky,' 'Mask,' 'Fat Man and Little Boy,' 'Haunted Summer,' 'Teachers,' 'Foxes' and 'Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains.'

Dern made her directorial debut with a short film called 'The Gift,' which aired as part of Showtime's 'Directed By' series in October 1994. In 1997 Dern was nominated for an Emmy Award and won an American Comedy Award for her guest-starring role in the controversial Puppy Episode of the ABC comedy, 'Ellen.' She received a 1998 Golden Globe nomination for her role in Jane Anderson's "The Baby Dance."

 Dern received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, as well as Emmy and Cable ACE nominations for her starring role in the 1992 telefilm 'Afterburn.' Her other work on television includes the film noir series, 'Fallen Angels,' for which she received an Emmy nomination, and Showtime's original film, 'Down Came a Blackbird.'

In 2010, in celebration of their family legacy in film and television, Dern, her mother Diane Ladd and father Bruce Dern were awarded with the first ever "Family Star Ceremony" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Dern resides in Los Angeles with her two children.

Interview with Laura Dern

HBO

This episode is a transition for many of Amy's relationships with the other characters. Is she finally settling in to her new role at Abaddon?

Laura Dern

I want her to settle in and I think she's trying to. But I fear that part of the challenge in Amy's life is that her intentions aren't the same as anyone else's. No matter how hard she tries to push an agenda, even a very appropriate and hopeful one, the world pushes back. What she does with that is where things get interesting.

HBO

What's behind the disconnect between her intentions and how they're perceived?

Laura Dern

I think it's a few things. She says what she means and is very outspoken, which are hard qualities for people who are in hiding to take. If you're trying to be forthright when you're dealing with a corporation, an addict, or a mother in denial, you do not have an easy road. What I love about Amy is that her greatest flaws might be her greatest gifts.

HBO

What might those be?

Laura Dern

Her willingness to confront the truth. Her willingness to be authentic, despite what other people think. Being determined to make the world a better place. It could be really exhausting to come in contact with someone like that, but they could also be the ones who save our planet too.

HBO

By the show's standards, this was an action-packed episode. What stood out for you?

Laura Dern

Jonathan Demme was very open to allowing the actors to explore the gray areas of relationships. There would be times when I would stick up for myself as Amy and people would have a hard time with it. Everybody's ready to throw Amy under the bus because they're used to how she might overreact, and so it was interesting to me playing this character, that once you've established yourself one way, it's hard to change. I found myself very defensive of Amy in this episode, particularly after the scene with Dougie on the dance floor.

HBO

In this episode, we see Tyler act on his long-simmering feelings for Amy. What does she think of him?

Laura Dern

Tyler may be one of Amy's first true friends. Someone who is there for her even when it's uncomfortable for him Even if she doesn't have the same feelings for him that he has for her, she does care deeply for him. It'll be interesting to see how they support each other as the season goes on.

HBO

What about Krista?

Laura Dern

She is not a true friend. Krista is Amy's friend as long as it's good for Krista. It's the polar opposite of her relationship with Tyler. I don't think she's mean-spirited or that she doesn't like Amy, it just comes from a place of fear. You can tell she did like Amy at one point, but it's just not useful for her now, and that comes from a fear of losing her gig in the current economy. I'm sure there a lot of people caught in those types of relationships in corporate America right now.

HBO

How would you characterize Amy's relationship with her mother, Helen?

Laura Dern

Sadly, it might be typical for a lot of people. It's deeply shut down and confrontational only though passive aggression. The only way the mother can show her love is by trying to control and sometimes dismiss her daughter. We know that doesn't work. Perhaps the relationship will change, even if it doesn't change for Helen, Amy might be able to make it change herself by having more compassion for her mother.

HBO

How is it playing the role opposite your own mother, Diane Ladd?

Laura Dern

I feel so lucky to have a mom who is not only an extraordinary actor, but someone who is game enough to not worry about our relationship versus what we play in movies or television. She has no ego about people thinking, "Oh, is this about them?" She is such a pure actress, and it is a very different relationship than the one we have. I think we can really explore it without too much of a personal trigger, but with a real understanding for it.

HBO

Is there still genuine love between Levi and Amy, or are they just pining for an earlier, happier time in their lives?

Laura Dern

I think it's both. As the season progresses, I think becomes clear that there's a deep love, and that they both know that whatever the history, they are each other's family. No matter what Levi does, even 10 years from now, Amy will still believe in him. She doesn't want to let go.

HBO

Why do you think the character resonates with so many people?

Laura Dern

I think the economy certainly has allowed people to relate to this character. We like to think that as a 40-year-old woman, she should be in a stable job and can now focus on finding a partner and having a kid. Instead, she's lost her job, her apartment and her money. There may have been errors in her ways, but for many Americans it's the kind of thing that just happens to you. What poverty is in America has really changed. I think there are a lot of people who relate to the terror that comes from being in that position. For Amy and a lot of people, her most broken moments are the opportunity for her highest growth.