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February 11th, 2014
11:37 PM ET

Bruce Dern on his Hollywood legacy and his Broadway roots

Thirty six years since his first Academy Award nomination and with this year's ceremony less than a month away, on Tuesday evening "Piers Morgan Live" rolled out the red carpet for Bruce Dern, a Hollywood mainstay who is still in search of his first Oscar.

In 1978, Dern's work in "Coming Home" landed him as a nominee for Best Supporting Actor, an award that ultimately went to Christopher Walken of "The Deer Hunter" fame. Nearly four decades later, Dern now has a second chance at Oscar glory, as he'll compete for the Best Actor trophy following his role in "Nebraska."

Described by film website IMDB as a "the movies' premier heavy, playing sociopaths, psychotics and just plain criminals," Dern alluded to being comfortable with his legacy and his place within his famous family:

"I'll buy that," said Dern, in response to hearing Piers Morgan read his professional bio. "I'll just say I'm from Winnetka, Illinois. I went to a high school called New Trier which is outside of Chicago. When I became an actor, I became kind of persona non grata. I had artists in my family: Archibald MacLeish is my uncle, won a bunch of Pulitzer prizes as a poet. My grandfather [George Henry] Dern was the first non-Mormon governor of Utah, and then Secretary of War in [Franklin D.] Roosevelt's first cabinet."

Seated across from the host, the 77-year-old Dern shared an entertaining anecdote from his early days on stage:

"I have a little scene in the play, and then I'm not in the Second Act," said Dern, describing his first Broadway experience, and one in which the director failed to select him for a curtain call. "He went around to everybody and at the end he hadn't said anything to me. I said 'Mr. Strasburg, you didn't call my name.' He said 'this is correct Bruce, because you die in the play. And when they go home on the Subway or in their cars or on the bus they should think that you really died.'"

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's interview with Dern, and for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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  1. Carolyn Donohue Ellinas

    I just saw the Bruce Dern interview on Piers Morgan and really enjoyed it. I don't watch Piers much because in the early days when he first took over for Larry King, it seemed to me that he never let the guests talk. After this interview I may change my TV watching habits. Mr. Dern was very entertaining. I especially liked his obvious interest in soccer. I'm an American living in Cyprus and have become a soccer fan through my son who was raised in Cyprus. Bruce Dern is really different than i expected. He looks great for his 77 years, obviously a result of his healthy lifestyle. Thanks so much for a great interview with a really interesting person.

    February 12, 2014 at 8:05 am | Report abuse | Reply
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