What is happening in our world? Who is doing what? what is going on now? These are questions that will be answered. Enjoy.
Is Laura Dern’s ‘Marriage Story’ Character Inspired by Laura Wasser, Celebrity Divorce Attorney?
Writers love lawyers—judging by the volume of movies and television series about them, anyway. In fact, some of our most iconic fictional characters are high-powered lawyers, like Atticus Finch, Elle Woods, Perry Mason, Saul Goodman, and Olivia Pope. Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story adds a new member to the canon of great fictional lawyers—Nora Fanshaw, a tough-talking, sheath dress-wearing shark played by Laura Dern, who represents Scarlett Johansson’s Nicole in her divorce from Adam Driver’s Charlie. However, Fanshaw may not be entirely fictional.
Speculation abounds that Fanshaw is based on Laura Wasser, a high-powered divorce attorney to the stars who practices in Los Angeles. Wasser’s client list is long and illustrious, featuring Hollywood heavyweights like Johansson, Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, and Britney Spears. Wasser even represented Dern herself in her divorce from musician Ben Harper.
In an interview with Vulture, Wasser was unsure as to whether or not the character was based on her, saying, “I don’t know. It’s very hard to see oneself that way, but because of the amount of people that have called and texted me about it, I can’t completely ignore that that may be the case.”
Even if the character wasn’t based entirely on Wasser, there’s no denying that Wasser shaped Nora Fanshaw in some way. In fact, Dern met with Wasser while researching the role, as well as several other divorce attorneys.
“She’s one of the great powerhouses,” Dern said of Wasser to The Hollywood Reporter. “Despite empathy and heartfelt intent—and I think Laura is an example of this—the business of divorce is the business of winning for your team.”
Even if Fanshaw isn’t a direct analogue to Wasser, they do have one thing in common: office space. The mediation scenes that take place in the conference room of Fanshaw’s practice were in fact shot in Wasser’s offices.
Wasser told Vulture, “Noah asked me whether he could shoot some of the scenes in our office. The larger conference room… and the super-small one, are both actually in our firm.”
Baumbach himself is no stranger to Wasser’s offices—in fact, Wasser represented his ex-wife Jennifer Jason Leigh in their 2013 divorce.
In 2018, Wasser was featured in Esquire’s Money Talks column. She told Esquire, “I tell my prospective clients, ‘The more you guys argue, the more money I make. Save your money for yourselves and your kids’ bar mitzvahs and educations.’’’ She went on to say, “I’m very surprised that people spend as much money as they do on their divorces. They’ll spend $1,200 in legal fees arguing over a $400 lamp.”
If Fanshaw is even half as expensive as Wasser, who charges $850 an hour for her services in addition to a $25,000 retainer, Nicole was likely bleeding money by the bitter end of her divorce. Our advice? Should’ve got a prenup. Wasser might agree—she told Esquire, “I think prenuptial agreements are a good idea, because they force some transparency in terms of what the expectations are prior to marriage. In my experience, people who enter into those kinds of difficult discussions—whether they have a prenup or not—tend to stay married longer.”
There you have it, folks. Talk it out before you get married—or else you might end up singing sad Sondheim karaoke.
Adrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor at Esquire, where she covers books and culture.