Laura Dern and Her Legendary Acting Coach: "We Can Say Anything to Each Other"

The best supporting actress nominee, who poses with Sandra Seacat for THR's Oscars Issue, quips that their relationship is "the opposite of 'Whiplash.' "

This story first appeared in the Feb. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

"Sandra gave me the greatest gift an actor could ever ask for, which was beyond a method or craft," says Laura Dern, 48, whose craft has earned her a best supporting actress nomination for Wild. "She gave me the joy of acting and really helped me find a way into feeling grateful for every opportunity I've had."

Watch more Laura Dern Talks About Bringing Father Bruce Dern to the Oscar Luncheon (Video)

How does one teach that? The Kansas-born Sandra Seacat, 78, who has close to three dozen onscreen acting credits on her résumé, says coaching Dern is a natural process. "Laura was born an authentic artist," she says. "She's totally true."

Laura Dern, left, and Sandra Seacat

Dern was referred to Seacat by no fewer than three acclaimed fellow actors (Treat Williams, Isabella Rossellini and Rosanna Arquette), and the two have worked together since the mid-1980s, following Dern's breakout in David Lynch's Blue Velvet.

"There's the freedom to be who you are with each other," says Seacat. "We can say anything to each other, and it's never critical."

See more Oscars: The Noms' Secret Weapons (Photos)

In other words, "It's the opposite of Whiplash," says Dern with a laugh, referring to the film's abusive band director. "Sandra is family forever."