Up until now, Laura Elena Harring was best known for her short-lived role as policewoman Paula on NBC's defunct soap opera Sunset Beach. But this lady's luck is starting to change, thanks to director David Lynch.
The onetime Miss U.S.A. 1985 who is of Mexican, German and Austrian descent says her beauty queen cred and slight accent made it tough to land acting gigs until Lynch cast her in Mulholland Drive opposite Naomi Watts and Justin Theroux. "When I started in Hollywood," she admits, "I couldn't get any appointments... Nobody thought that I would be able to act because I wore this crown."
While waiting for her big break, Harring was forced to "open up and be very vulnerable and work harder at [her] craft." Her persistence and that pesky accent paid off when Lynch hired her for a TV pilot about a mysterious amnesia victim with an identity crisis in a stylish and corrupt contemporary L.A. "He didn't know what I was," she smiles, "which is probably why he hired me. I don't think [my accent] is going to be an issue anymore because of David, because David gave me a chance."
Although Harring was already a fan of the Twin Peaks
auteur, she was surprised by Lynch's ability to make an "amazing movie" out of a rejected ABC TV-pilot, which was revived by France's Canal Plus in 2000. "I just felt, 'My God, what a genius,'" she enthuses. "There are so many levels [to] the film. Every time I see it, I get a different meaning from it. In a way, that's [the] making of a classic."