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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 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)

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 lifeEdit

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.[citation needed]

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]


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

External linksEdit