Laura Dern has not had much luck with romance; her first love left her to be with another woman, and the second man she decided to give a chance ruined everything when he blindsided her with divorce papers. This is her story.
Laura Dern is famously known for her roles in "Jurassic Park" and "Marriage Story." Throughout her career, she has been known to play warm, hilarious, and sometimes downright charming characters that have made her a sweetheart in the eyes of many; unfortunately, that same level of success has not been recorded in her romantic life.
The first man she was romantically involved with was Billy Bob Thornton, and he jilted her to be with Angelina Jolie. As if the fact he was leaving to be with another woman was not enough, Thornton kept his desire to leave secret from her until the very end.
Laura Dern onstage during the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 5, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
According to Dern, she found out that the man was leaving her only after he did. When it happened, she had been at work, and while she remained blissfully ignorant, her boyfriend got married, and it was the last time she heard from him.
It was hard for her to process, and Dern described it as a sudden death that left no room for clarity or closure; however, with time, she was able to move past the heartbreak, find another man and even get married.
IT TOOK HER FIVE YEARS TO SAY YES, AND IT WAS ALL FOR NOTHING
Laura Dern and Ben Harper at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles to help Mick Jagger celebrate the release of his new solo album "Goddess in the Doorway" with a live performance. Thursday, November 15, 2001. | Source: Getty Images
Dern met the next man she fell in love with at one of his concerts in 2000, and at the time, the man had been separated from his wife of four years, Joanna. His name was Ben Harper, and his divorce from his wife was finalized in 2001, but they continued to co-parent their two kids together.
When they met one another, Dern was still rebounding from her failed relationship with Thornton, whom she had almost married. Considering how much damage that did to her, it was not surprising that it took Harper about five years to convince her to get married to him.
Ben Harper and Laura Dern on March 17, 2005 in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images
The marriage ceremony was intimate and held at their home in Los Angeles. At the time, she had become a mother to two kids they welcomed together.
The actress takes pride in her kids, and despite having a fixed child support agreement, she was graceful enough to have Harper’s child support quota reduced from $17k to $10k per month.
Harper was a California-born musician who reportedly started playing music as soon as he could speak. His debut album was titled "Welcome to the Cruel World" and released in 1994 under Virgin records.
Ben Harper and Laura Dern at the David Lynch Foundation Change Begins Within concert on April 4, 2009 in New York | Source: Getty Images
It was a great success, and it helped him attract a cult-like following in the 90s. In the years that followed, the talented man delivered 14 more top-grossing albums, with many of his songs getting played on hit TV shows, including "Vampire Diaries" and "House."
Outside music, Harper co-owns a skateboarding brand known as Roller Horror, and his Instagram page is filled with skateboarding footage that captures him trying out new tricks. He was certainly an interesting man, and Dern thought so too; however, even though they made it to the altar, the actresses' life took another wrong turn.
AS WITH THORNTON, SHE DID NOT SEE THE STORM COMING
Laura Dern and Ben Harper arrive at the HBO after party for the 66th annual Golden Globe Awards held at Circa 55 Restaurant. | Source: Getty Images
According to those close to Dern and Harper, there had been little to no indication that they were having trouble in paradise when the talented man slammed her with divorce papers citing irreconcilable differences in October 2010.
In the court document, Harper claimed they had been separated since January even though they were traveling together throughout that year and that they had also been intimate a week before. He requested joint legal and physical custody of their two kids but demanded that Dern be denied spousal support.
Laura Dern and Ben Harper on January 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images
The divorce proceedings began right then, and it dragged on for three years before it was finalized in 2013; however, in 2012, the couple came together to salvage their marriage.
It was a wrong move, and months down the line, Dern realized this and decided she wanted to be done with him. She filed her response to Harper's divorce papers and demanded primary physical custody of their two kids.
The judge signed the petition and granted them joint custody of the kids, but the terms of their settlement were kept confidential, and it was later revealed that neither was to get spousal support.
Two years later, Harper moved on with another woman named Jaclyn Matfus, whom he married in a surprise wedding and remains blissfully wedded to date.
AFTER HARPER, SHE CHOSE TO FOCUS ON HER KIDS
Laura Dern, son Ellery Walker Harper and daughter Jaya Harper arrive at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images
After her relationship with Harper sunk, Dern was left with raising their kids by herself. Her eldest child is a boy named Ellery Harper, and he reportedly works as a model, having appeared in fashion shows organized by influential designers like Raf Simmons.
He made his magazine debut on the Spring/Summer 2021 cover of ODDA, an arts and culture publication based in New York City. According to Closer Weekly, the boy, born on August 21, 2004, is very shy about talking about his mom's career, but that does not hinder his relationship with her.
In fact, the pair share a strong bond, and Dern has been very present in his life while Harper does his best to keep up. The musician's second child with Dern was named Jaya, born on November 28, 2004.
She is still in her teens, but the girl has already made her debut on TV; one included an appearance on Entertainment Tonight, and the second was in a film titled "Teenage Emotions" in February 2021.
Besides her apparent affinity for the spotlight, Jaya is also known to be very outspoken, notably appearing next to her mom at the 2019 Golden Globes in which her mom wore a "Time’s Up" ribbon in support of the #MeToo movement.
As with her first kid, Dern shares a special connection with her daughter and has been known to share pictures of the outspoken girl on social media laden with praise.
Ellery Harper, Jaya Harper, Diane Ladd, and Laura Dern attend the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 | Source: Getty Images
The actress takes pride in her kids, and despite having a fixed child support agreement, she was graceful enough to have Harper's child support quota reduced from $17k to $10k per month.
SHE PREFERS TO NOT TALK ABOUT HER PREVIOUS MARRIAGE
Laura Dern poses with her children, Ellery Walker Harper and Jaya Harper, on the red carpet before the opening ceremony of the 43rd Deauville US Film Festival in the French northwestern sea resort of Deauville on September 1, 2017 | Source: Getty Images
Dern has had her heart broken, and she prefers not to talk about her previous marriage even though she has no problems discussing the concept of single parenting, having raised both her kids alone.
Thanks to her dedication, she makes it seem easy but being a single mother does become a bit much now and then. Here's what she had to say about the struggle:
“On the hard days, it’s stressful and there is too much going on as a single parent—and it can be hard to carve out a minute for yourself.”
Laura Dern during the Cannes Lions 2019: Day Two on June 18, 2019 in Cannes, France | Source: Getty Images
Dern has also admitted that nobody has ever bullied her in her life as a single parent, and even though she has good people around her, she believes that it is something she can do on her own.
According to her, her life as a mom has opened her eyes, and the more she learns from her parenting mistakes, the deeper she falls in love with her kids.
Dern has grown ambitious because she feels she deserves to make a lot of money due to her status as a single mother, and above all, Dern loves her past because it helped her reach where she is as a person.