Lawrence Kasdan

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.

Lawrence Kasdan
Lawrence Edward Kasdan

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

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]


Filmmaking credits

Title Year Functioned as Reception Box office
DirectorWriterProducer Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore Budget Gross
The Empire Strikes Back 1980 No Yes No 95% (98 reviews) 82 (25 reviews) N/A $33 million $538.4 million
Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 No Yes No 95% (76 reviews) 85 (16 reviews) N/A $18 million $389.9 million
Body Heat 1981 Yes Yes No 98% (40 reviews) 77 (11 reviews) N/A $9 million $24 million
Continental Divide 1981 No Yes No 70% (10 reviews) 64 (7 review) N/A N/A $15 million
Return of the Jedi 1983 No Yes No 81% (91 reviews) 58 (24 reviews) N/A $42.7 million $572.1 million
The Big Chill 1983 Yes Yes Executive 67% (36 reviews) 61 (12 reviews) N/A $8 million $56.4 million
Silverado 1985 Yes Yes Yes 76% (33 reviews) 64 (14 reviews) N/A $23 million $32.1 million
Cross My Heart 1987 No No Yes 40% (10 reviews) N/A N/A $7 million $1 million
The Accidental Tourist 1988 Yes Yes Yes 81% (31 reviews) 53 (12 reviews) N/A N/A $32.6 million
Immediate Family 1989 No No Executive 55% (11 reviews) N/A A- $14 million $5.9 million
I Love You to Death 1990 Yes No No 58% (24 reviews) 45 (13 reviews) C N/A $16.2 million
Jumpin' at the Boneyard 1991 No No Executive N/A N/A N/A N/A $15 706
Grand Canyon 1991 Yes Yes Yes 77% (35 reviews) 64 (15 reviews) B+ N/A $40.9 million
The Bodyguard 1992 No Yes Yes 34% (38 reviews) 39 (20 reviews) N/A $25 million $411 million
Wyatt Earp 1994 Yes Yes Yes 44% (27 reviews) 47 (20 reviews) B+ $63 million $25.1 million
French Kiss 1995 Yes No No 48% (25 reviews) 50 (14 reviews) B+ N/A $102 million
Home Fries 1998 No No Yes 31% (36 reviews) 45 (17 reviews) C- $15 million $10.4 million
Mumford 1999 Yes Yes Yes 57% (81 reviews) 62 (33 reviews) C+ $28 million $4.6 million
Dreamcatcher 2003 Yes Yes Yes 29% (180 reviews) 35 (38 reviews) C+ $68 million $75.7 million
The TV Set 2006 No No Executive 65% (77 reviews) 65 (26 reviews) N/A $2 million $265 198
In the Land of Women 2007 No No Executive 44% (117 reviews) 47 (29 reviews) B- $10 million $17.6 million
Darling Companion 2012 Yes Yes Yes 22% (88 reviews) 41 (38 reviews) N/A $12 million $793 815
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015 No Yes Uncredited 93% (422 reviews) 81 (55 reviews) A $250 million $2.068 billion
Solo: A Star Wars Story 2018 No Yes Executive 70% (460 reviews) 62 (54 reviews) A− $275 million $392.7 million
November Road TBA Yes Yes Yes TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA

Acting credits

Title Year Role Notes
Into the Night 1985 Detective #2
I Love You to Death 1990 Devo's Lawyer Uncredited
Grand Canyon 1991 Director in screening room Uncredited
Wyatt Earp 1994 Gambler Uncredited
As Good as It Gets 1997 Dr. Green
Darling Companion 2012 Man on Street Uncredited


  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 January 9, 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 May 24, 2011.
  10. "JJ Abrams to script as well as direct". Guardian UK. August 25, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  11. "Han Solo's 2018 Spotlight Will Be Lawrence Kasdan's Last 'Star Wars' Movie (Report)". Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  12. "What is the AJFF Icon Award?". March 25, 2016. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
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