Lawrence Kasdan
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Lawrence Kasdan

Lawrence Kasdan
Lawrence Kasdan by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Lawrence Edward Kasdan

(1949-01-14) January 14, 1949 (age 70)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Years active1980-present
Meg Goldman (m. 1971)
RelativesMark Kasdan (brother)

Lawrence Edward Kasdan (born January 14, 1949) is an American screenwriter, director and producer. He is best known as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, and Solo.

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

Early life

Kasdan was born Jewish[1] 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 lived at the Eugene V. Debs Cooperative House for a time while in Ann Arbor.[4] Kasdan won a Hopwood Award for writing during the time of his studies.[5] 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, earning a Clio Award for his work. Kasdan began his career in Detroit, later relocating to Los Angeles where he began to write screenplays.

Kasdan's introduction into the film business came in the mid-1970s when, after being rejected 67 times,[6] 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, based on a story written by Philip Kaufman and himself. Lucas then hired Kasdan to rework some dialogues of his screenplay for his Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back (1980).[7][8] Kasdan made his directing debut with Body Heat (1981), which he also wrote. Lucas later commissioned Kasdan again to rework the dialogue for his 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.[9]

From 1994 to 2003, he made a set of films that, in contrast to the hits he had 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. The exception was 1995's French Kiss, which grossed $100 million.

He made cameo appearances as the lawyer of River Phoenix's character in I Love You to Death, the director of Steve Martin's character's latest action film in Grand Canyon, 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. In 2006, Kasdan received the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement from the Writers Guild of America.

Kasdan directed the 2012 dramedy Darling Companion, starring Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline.

In October 2013, it was announced that J. J. Abrams had taken over screenwriting duties for the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens, working alongside Kasdan, following the departure of Michael Arndt.[10] After his involvement with Solo: A Star Wars Story, he left the Star Wars universe, and has no involvement in Episodes VIII and IX, The Last Jedi or The Rise of Skywalker.[11]

On May 22, 2016, Kasdan was honored by the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and as the inaugural recipient of their "ICON Award for Contributions to the Cinematic Arts" in a ceremony held at the Woodruff Arts Center.[12]


Title Year Functioned as Director Co-writer(s)
Director Writer Producer Actor Role
The Empire Strikes Back 1980 No Yes No No Irvin Kershner Leigh Brackett, George Lucas
Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 No Yes No No Steven Spielberg George Lucas, Philip Kaufman
Body Heat 1981 Yes Yes No No --
Continental Divide 1981 No Yes No No Michael Apted --
Return of the Jedi 1983 No Yes No No Richard Marquand George Lucas
The Big Chill 1983 Yes Yes Executive No Barbara Benedek
Into the Night 1985 No No No Yes Detective #2 John Landis
Silverado 1985 Yes Yes Yes No Mark Kasdan
Cross My Heart 1987 No No Yes No Armyan Bernstein
The Accidental Tourist 1988 Yes Yes Yes No Frank Galati
Immediate Family 1989 No No Executive No Jonathan Kaplan
I Love You to Death 1990 Yes No No Yes Devo's Lawyer
Jumpin' at the Boneyard 1991 No No Executive No Jeff Stanzler
Grand Canyon 1991 Yes Yes Yes Yes Director in screening room Meg Kasdan
The Bodyguard 1992 No Yes Yes No Mick Jackson --
Wyatt Earp 1994 Yes Yes Yes Yes Gambler Dan Gordon
French Kiss 1995 Yes No No No
As Good as It Gets 1997 No No No Yes Dr. Green James L. Brooks
Home Fries 1998 No No Yes No Dean Parisot
Mumford 1999 Yes Yes Yes No --
Dreamcatcher 2003 Yes Yes Yes No William Goldman
The TV Set 2006 No No Executive No Jake Kasdan
In the Land of Women 2007 No No Executive No Jonathan Kasdan
Darling Companion 2012 Yes Yes Yes Yes Man on Street Meg Kasdan
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015 No Yes Co-Producer No J.J. Abrams J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
Solo: A Star Wars Story 2018 No Yes Executive No Ron Howard Jonathan Kasdan
November Road TBA Yes Yes Yes No --


  1. ^ Jewish Journal: "About a dog, lost and found" by Naomi Pfefferman April 22, 2012
  2. ^ Lawrence Kasdan Biography (1949-). Retrieved on February 26, 2016.
  3. ^ "Lawrence Kasdan Trivia". Lawrence Kasdan. Retrieved 2010.
  4. ^ "The Big Chill (1983)" – via
  5. ^ "Hopwood Program" Archived December 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. University of Michigan. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  6. ^ CHILLIN' BIG WITH LAWRENCE KASDAN By Alex Simon September 2001 issue of Venice Magazine
  7. ^ Robinson, Michael E (2007). Korea's Twentieth-Century Odyssey. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-8248-3174-5.
  8. ^ Rinzler, J.W. (2010). The Making of The Empire Strikes Back: The Definitive Story Behind the Film by J.W. Rinzler. Lucas Licensing. ISBN 2355741484.
  9. ^ "Berlinale: 1992 Prize Winners". Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ "JJ Abrams to script as well as direct". Guardian UK. August 25, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  11. ^ "Han Solo's 2018 Spotlight Will Be Lawrence Kasdan's Last 'Star Wars' Movie (Report)". Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^ "What is the AJFF Icon Award?". March 25, 2016. Retrieved 2016.

External links

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