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Lawrence Kasdan

Lawrence Kasdan
Born Lawrence Edward Kasdan
(1949-01-14) January 14, 1949 (age 71)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Screenwriter, film director, film producer
Years active 1980–present
Spouse(s) Meg Goldman Kasdan (1971–present)
Children Jake Kasdan
Jon Kasdan

Lawrence Edward Kasdan (born January 14, 1949) is an American screenwriter, director and producer. He is best known as co-writer of the films The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi. Kasdan has been confirmed to be co-writer for the upcoming third trilogy of Star Wars.[1]

He has been nominated for four Oscars: twice for Best Original Screenplay for The Big Chill and Grand Canyon and once for both Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture for The Accidental Tourist. He is the father of directors Jake Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, and the father-in-law of musician Inara George.

Early life

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.[2] His brother is the writer/producer Mark Kasdan. He was raised in Morgantown, West Virginia,[3] where he graduated from Morgantown High School in 1966.

He graduated from the University of Michigan with an MA in Education, originally planning on a career as an English teacher. He won a Hopwood Award for writing during the time of his studies.[4] 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 67 times,[5] 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 screenplays successively called "the best un-made script 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 to write the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Lucas then hired Kasdan to complete the screenplay for his Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back (1980) after the death of Leigh Brackett, who wrote the first draft. Kasdan made his directing debut with Body Heat (1981), which he also wrote. Lucas later commissioned Kasdan to write the screenplay for Return of the Jedi (1983).

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.[6]

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 films 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.

In October 2013, it was announced that JJ Abrams had taken over screenwriting duties for Star Wars Episode VII (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), working alongside Kasdan following the departure of Michael Arndt.[7]

In 2006, Kasdan received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement from the Writers Guild of America.

Recurring cast members

Actor Body Heat
The Big Chill
The Accidental Tourist
I Love You to Death
Grand Canyon
Wyatt Earp
French Kiss
Darling Companion
Kevin Costner X markN1 X markN X markN
Ted Danson X markN X markN
Jeff Fahey X markN X markN
James Gammon X markN X markN X markN
Danny Glover X markN X markN
Jeff Goldblum X markN X markN
William Hurt X markN X markN X markN X markN
Richard Jenkins X markN X markN
Kevin Kline X markN X markN X markN X markN X markN X markN
Jason Lee X markN X markN
Mary McDonnell X markN X markN
Elisabeth Moss X markN X markN
Bill Pullman X markN X markN
Tom Sizemore X markN X markN
Kathleen Turner X markN X markN
JoBeth Williams X markN X markN
Alfre Woodard X markN X markN

1Costner's scenes were deleted from the final film.


Year Title Notes
1980 The Empire Strikes Back writer
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark writer
Body Heat writer, director
Continental Divide writer
1983 Return of the Jedi writer
The Big Chill writer, director, and executive producer
1985 Silverado writer, director, and producer
1988 The Accidental Tourist writer, director, and producer
1990 I Love You to Death director
1991 Grand Canyon writer, director, and producer
1992 The Bodyguard writer and producer
1994 Wyatt Earp writer, director, and producer
1995 French Kiss director
1999 Mumford writer, director, and producer
2003 Dreamcatcher writer, director, and producer
2012 Darling Companion writer, director, and producer
2014 Hotel Vendome writer, director, and producer
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens writer
2017 Star Wars Episode VIII producer
2018 Untitled (Rogue One?) Star Wars spinoff writer and producer
2019 Star Wars Episode IX writer and producer


  1. ^ [1] (Businessweek, 2013-03-07)
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Lawrence Kasdan Trivia". Lawrence Kasdan. Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Hopwood Program". University of Michigan. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  5. ^ CHILLIN' BIG WITH LAWRENCE KASDAN By Alex Simon September 2001 issue of Venice Magazine
  6. ^ "Berlinale: 1992 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  7. ^ "JJ Abrams to script as well as direct". Guardian UK. 25 August 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 

External links

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