"I was a product of the 1970s. I watched my parents working with Scorsese and Hal Ashby and Hitchcock," she said.
"I was 7½. I turned to my parents and said, 'I want to become an actress.'"
One of Dern's first roles was as an ice-cream-eating extra in Martin Scorsese's 1974 "Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More." Always a perfectionist, the director shot multiple takes. Dern ate 19 cones.
"And [Scorsese] is like, 'Oh, she's got stamina. Ya know, this girl should be an actress. You should be an actress!' I was like, 'Mommy, Martin Scorsese told me I should be an actress. You can't stop me from my destiny!'"
Dern has continued to work with (and garner praise from) some of Hollywood's top directors -- Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood and the late Robert Altman to name a few. She's also been keeping very busy.
Besides the new Lynch opus, Dern has recently wrapped films with Russell Crowe and John Travolta.
She's grateful for the work but looks forward to returning to Los Angeles and spending more time with her husband, the musician Ben Harper, and their two young children. "I told Ben, 'I want a nap as my Christmas present.'"