The actress — who appears in Swift's "Bejeweled" music video — spoke to PEOPLE at the Environmental Media Association Awards Gala
At the Environmental Media Association Awards Gala on Saturday, the Jurassic Park actress and honoree, 56, chatted exclusively with PEOPLE — and when asked what she might, as a friend, know about Swift that her fans may not have the chance to experience, Dern shared a heartfelt response.
"She cares about everything deeply,” Dern tells PEOPLE of Swift, 34, adding, “and I think people who love her know that.”
She continues, “They know that in her writing and they know that in her heart and her activism — but it's been incredible to know that as a friend too.”
Despite her close friendship with Swift, Dern provided a diplomatic response when asked if she’ll be supporting the Kansas City Chiefs in their AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. (The Chiefs are, of course, the team of the “Blank Space” singer’s boyfriend, tight end Travis Kelce.)
“Oh, it's a complicated answer. I don't have an answer,” she explains before adding: “I may have reasons to root for everyone.”
Dern also revealed what had first brought her into the wider environmental movement, giving props to one celebrity friend in particular.
"My mom early on as a kid and her amazing friends, some of whom are here tonight that I was privileged to learn from at a young age," she says, adding, "And the amazing Ted Danson, who's been such a huge inspiration with his work at Oceana. So many people [who] really have guided me and taught me so much."
The Oscar winner — who appeared in Swift’s "Bejeweled" music video in 2022 — shared another glimpse into her relationship with the musician at the premiere of documentary Common Ground earlier this month.
“It's one of my deep friendships and I love and admire her so much,” Dern told PEOPLE at the event.
“To find a friend amidst the creative, and she's a superpower... She's incredible,” she added. “So that's been really fun.”
And, when asked if starring in the music video for the Midnights track helped her expand her fandom among Swifties, Dern said she wasn’t sure.
“I don't know,” she admitted. “I don't know, but I'll take it.”
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In the “Bejeweled” video (a “twist on a Cinderella story,” per Swift) the Haim sisters appear as the stepsisters while Dern portrays Swift's villainous stepmother.
The “All Too Well” singer explained how the Big Little Lies actress’ role came to be during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in October 2022, telling host Fallon that she told Dern she wrote a one-page script in which the actress would get to call her a "tired, tacky wench.”
Recalling her version of events in a November 2022 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Dern seconded Swift, noting that the line was all it took for her to agree.
"Even better is when she’s speaking to you on the phone, asking you if there’s any way you could possibly be willing to say these words to her," the actress added at the time.
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