Biography of Lawrence Kasdan
Lawrence Edward Kasdan (born January 14, 1949) is an American film producer, director, and screenwriter.
Kasdan was born in Miami, Florida, the son of Sylvia Sarah (née Landau), an employment counselor, and Clarence Norman Kasdan, who managed retail electronics stores. His brother is the writer/producer Mark Kasdan. He was raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he graduated from Morgantown High School in 1966. His family is Jewish.
He graduated from the University of Michigan with an MA in Education, originally planning on a career as an English teacher. He was a student of Professor Kenneth Thorpe Rowe. Upon graduation, Kasdan was unable to find a teaching position, so he became an advertising copywriter, a profession he did not enjoy, but remained in for five years (even picking up a Clio Award along the way), first in Detroit and later in Los Angeles where he tried to interest Hollywood in his screenplays.
Kasdan's introduction into the film business came in the mid-1970s when after being rejected 37 times, his script for The Bodyguard was sold to Warner Bros. as a vehicle for Diana Ross and Steve McQueen. The script became stuck in "development hell" and became one of several scripts successively called "the best un-made film in Hollywood"; it was eventually produced as a 1992 film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.
After he sold his screenplay Continental Divide to Steven Spielberg, George Lucas commissioned Kasdan in 1979 to complete the screenplay for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back after the death of Leigh Brackett. Lucas then commissioned Kasdan to write the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark and the last installment of the Star Wars trilogy, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Kasdan made his directing debut in 1981 with Body Heat, which he also wrote.
Kasdan is known for both writing and directing his films, which have ranged from Westerns and romantic comedies to thought-provoking dramas. He has received four Academy Award nominations, for screenplays to The Big Chill, Grand Canyon, and The Accidental Tourist, for which he also earned a nomination for Best Picture. Grand Canyon won the Golden Bear at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.
He has cast Kevin Kline in six of his films. From 1994 to 2003, he did a set of films that, in contrast to the hits he did in the 1980s, failed to break the bank in receipts; among these film were Wyatt Earp and Dreamcatcher, the latter based on the Stephen King best seller. 1995's French Kiss did gross $100 million.
He made cameo appearances as the lawyer of River Phoenix's character in I Love You To Death and in James L. Brooks' comedy As Good As It Gets as the fed-up psychiatrist of Jack Nicholson's novelist.
In 2001 Kasdan was the recipient of the Austin Film Festival's Distinguished Screenwriter Award.
Kasdan directed the 2012 dramedy Darling Companion, starring Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline.
Kasdan is the father of directors/actors Jake and Jon Kasdan, the father-in-law of Inara George.