Laura Dern & Mike White On The Inspiration For HBO’s ‘Enlightened’

Laura Dern is heading to HBO in October with “Enlightened,” a quirky drama about Amy, a woman who undergoes a transformation after a massive meltdown in front of her co-workers. Many of the themes in the series, however, actually came from Creator/Executive Producer Mike White’s own life.

“When I did my last show, I kind of did my own, ‘[Expletive] you guys in the hall!’ and [I] started reading self help books and meditating and I just thought it’d be funny to do a show about somebody who comes back from a public humiliation,” Mike, who also stars in the series alongside Laura and Luke Wilson said on Thursday at HBO’s portion of the Television Critics Association Summer 2011 Session in Beverly Hills. “They’ve seen the light, and they want to express that, but they don’t have the credibility… I think that there’s a lot of personal stuff in it, but obviously it’s a big canvas.”

Laura, who plays the Amy, with her sunny, new-age outlook, said playing a character who has trouble fitting in at work and in life, post blow-up and with her new attitude, has been interesting.

“I think there’s a lot of freedom and opportunity as an actor to get to live in the gray and explore that, but I also think it’s really interesting that so many of us long for or put honesty on a pedestal — I do — but when you are inside of a character who’s honest, what an incredibly unlikable trait it is,” she said.

The series also stars Luke Wilson as Levi, Amy’s not-quite-reformed love interest, and the film star said the leap to TV was easy.

“It was mainly because of Mike and Laura,” Luke said of the easy sell to join the show. “I was a big fan of ‘Chuck and Buck’ and… ‘School of Rock’ (both of which Mike wrote)… and I’ve always been a fan of Laura for a long time, and just those two people alone I would have wanted to work with.”

“Enlightened” debuts on Monday, October 10 on HBO.

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