Hollywood veteran Bruce Dern wins Cannes best actor

One of the stars of Hollywood's 1970s golden age, Bruce Dern, won the best actor prize Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Alexander Payne's "Nebraska". In the recession-era road movie, the 76-year-old Dern plays an alcoholic father who believes he has won a million-dollar sweepstake. Dern has enjoyed a long career playing villains and psychos which earned him honours early on, although he struggled to escape being typecast. The 76-year-old, father of Laura Dern, began acting in the 1960s, appeared in the 1974 version of "The Great Gatsby" with Robert Redford, and played a baddie in last year's Quentin Tarantino bloodfest "Django Unchained." Payne's black and white movie set in a crisis-ravaged American Mid-West, sees Dern's character, Korean veteran Woody, take a road trip with his long suffering son David from their home in Montana to his father's Native Nebraska to claim his purported million-dollar winnings. The film was one of several screened this year featuring performances by stars from Hollywood's 1970s golden age including Michael Douglas and Robert Redford. Born in Chicago in 1936, Dern started out on television before breaking onto the big screen in roles including westerns with John Wayne, whom he shot dead in 1972's "The Cowboys," the only actor to kill the Duke onscreen. He was nominated for a Golden Globe in "The Great Gatsby," and an Oscar and a Golden Globe for 1978's "Coming Home," and won a Silver Bear in Berlin for "The Championship Season," but rarely took home the top prizes. Critics say Dern, a close friend of Jack Nicholson, struggled to escape casting directors' assumptions of what he could play. "I've played more psychotics and freaks and dopers than anyone," he once said. "Because I'm the only actor who ever killed John Wayne in a picture, producers have pegged me for a villain." The actor, who was not at the ceremony on the French Riviera to accept his award, has been married three times, including to actress Diane Ladd with whom he had two children. The first daughter died at 18 months. Laura Dern, born in 1967, went on to star in "Wild at Heart" in 1990 and "Jurassic Park" in 1993.