Laura Dern likes the spoken word so much she even enjoys callbacks to re-record lines for her movies.
“Some actors complain about it,” she says. “But it gives me an opportunity to add something to the film.”
Dern was interviewed by telephone recently about a vocal project she especially enjoyed, serving as narrator for a new audiobook production of “Little Women,” the Louisa May Alcott story that's also coming out this week as a movie directed by Greta Gerwig, with Dern playing the March family mother, Marmee. The audiobook was produced by the producer-distributor Audible. Readers providing voices for the characters include Suzanne Toren, Lauren Fortgang and Allison Hiroto.
Dern's memories of “Little Women” date back to around age 13, when she and her grandmother would read it aloud together and when Dern read the novel by herself.
“It was an amazing time for me to read the book,” she says. “It was around the time I was deciding to became an actress.”
Dern, 52, related to the Marches from the start. Like the March sisters, she was raised mostly by women; her parents, the actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, divorced when she was little and she spent much of her time with her mother and grandmother. Filming the movie, and reading the audiobook, reminded her of her deep attachment to the fictional family, especially to Marmee.
"I got to walk in those shoes, and to figure how to do it with nobility," she said. “I found her available and messy and wise and funny, and a muse. I think we often make our heroes very angelic."
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Her immersion in “Little Women” has her thinking about her family — one of her children read “Little Women” while Dern was working on the film last year — and how to include them in future audiobooks. She speaks of a project with her parents, noting that her mother is a Mississippi native who has the “most lyrical, beautiful Southern voice."
Asked if she has any books in mind that she'd love to narrate, she mentions the plays of Tennessee Williams and some works of humor.
“I've never read something that deeply irreverent, so it would be really fun to read David Sedaris," she said. "I would love that.”