Off screen, Laura Dern has worked on behalf of Healthy Child, Healthy World, "whose focus is protecting children from environmental disasters," so it's not surprising that she's pleased to portray a sort of eco-crusader, albeit a somewhat misguided one, in the new HBO comedy series "Enlightened," co-starring Luke Wilson and Dern's real-life mother Diane Ladd.

"A huge part of why I wanted to do this show is the idea of someone who is so crazy and enraged and wants to effect change in the world by using her voice," says Dern, whose character, Amy Jellicoe, is rage-filled and self-destructive, has a meltdown at work, and after an enforced leave of absence, returns determined to live a more conscious life — even if it drives everyone around her crazy.

"What I love about her is that she has such wonderful intentions but sometimes she doesn't know how to be the person she'd like to be. Maybe it would take a rage-filled person to actually make a difference," muses Dern, noting that as the series progresses "there is an emphasis to look at how corporations don't protect the world we live in, and how corporate greed gets in the way of very easy choices that could be just a little bit more money to not destroy our oceans and our lakes and kill kids with horrible diseases because they've put a PVC plant in their town. As the show unfolds you'll see that this is just one of those corporations that are seemingly doing just one thing but have their hands in all these disastrous things."

Asked whether she considers herself to be enlightened, Dern admits she's "got a long way to go. I'm certainly interested in healing," she says, adding, "Becoming a mother was enlightening in how much I needed to learn. I'm enlightened every day by how simple I can make it — and by how complicated I actually make it."

"Enlightened" premieres Oct. 10 on HBO.

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