‘Star Wars’ Role Was Thrill for Dern

May the 4th be with you, Laura Dern, and darn all the mystery surrounding the character you’ll play as one of the latest additions to the Star Wars galaxy.

The actress, in New York on Thursday to support a family health-focused global initiative, was tight-lipped about her role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which opens in December.

“What I can say is I had the time of my life,” Dern told The Associated Press. “I felt like an 8-year-old every day at work, to go to work and be in makeup and hair and walk out in this community of people and, you know, be in a studio where you look down the corridor and you see Chewbacca!”

The mind, Dern said, “melts and you feel like you’re at play.”

Academy position

Dern, who has twice been nominated for Oscars, offered no resolution on another front: a Variety report that she’s among the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board members under consideration to run for president after the term of Cheryl Boone Isaacs expires in July.

Variety cited sources it did not identify as saying Dern is interested. And Dern’s take?

“It was news to me. If it came from anyone at the academy, what a gorgeous compliment,” she said.

Dern joined the board last July amid industry tumult over diversity. She would be the fourth woman to serve in the top spot, after Isaacs, Bette Davis and Fay Kanin. Candidates usually don’t campaign for the unpaid, four-year post.

“I would love to be more and more involved for the rest of my life but don’t know that that should have any predefined title,” Dern said. “I’m definitely learning on the fly a great deal.”

Support for women, families

When it comes to motherhood — Dern has a 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter — she’s a font of support for women and families, serving as an ambassador for the annual Johnson & Johnson and United Nations Foundation digital fundraising campaign called the Global Moms Relay.

From May 3 to June 16, parents, community leaders, experts and celebrities are sharing personal stories about issues impacting families, with J&J donating a $1 — up to $500,000 — for every social media tweet, share or like. Among five causes that benefit are UNICEF and nonprofits that help girls and provide nets in the fight against malaria in Africa and elsewhere.

“A child’s right to their own health and well-being should be their birthright,” Dern said. “It’s a nonpartisan issue.”

Dern was especially touched by TV talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel’s recent outpouring of emotion and support for health care for all when he revealed his newborn son’s heart surgery. Dern’s own son required surgery soon after birth.

“Once you’ve gone through anything where you’re afraid as a parent and you’re in a community of other parents in terror, like at a neonatal intensive care unit,” she said, “you realize the fragility and the good fortune that we have to have a healthy family, or to have the privilege of health care when you need it.”

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