KASDAN, LAWRENCE EDWARD


KASDAN, LAWRENCE EDWARD (1949– ), U.S. director, screenwriter, producer. A University of Michigan graduate with a master's degree in education, Kasdan originally worked as an advertising copywriter and submitted his screenplays on the side. In 1976 he sold his first screenplay, The Bodyguard, but it was not produced until 1992. His big break came when Steven Spielberg took notice of his 1980 screenplay Continental Divide and introduced him to George Lucas. He joined Leigh Brackett to co-write The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Spielberg then recruited him to write the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Kasdan returned to the world of lightsabers in 1983 to pen Return of the Jedi (1983) with Lucas. Kasdan stepped behind the camera for the first time in 1981 with his directorial debut of Body Heat, which he also wrote. The Big Chill (1983) was written, produced, and directed by Kasdan and earned his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. In 1985, he acted in the first of a handful of small roles, portraying the detective #2 in John Landis' Into the Night. Kasdan wrote, produced, and directed The Accidental Tourist (1988), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. He and his wife, Meg Kasdan, co-wrote the Academy Award nominee for Best Original Screenplay Grand Canyon (1991), and he directed and produced the movie as well. In 1992, The Bodyguard was finally brought to life, but with Kevin Costner as the lead, not Steve McQueen, as Kasdan had originally imagined. It was a huge box-office hit. Other well-known Kasdan projects include Wyatt Earp (1994), Mumford (1999), and Dreamcatcher (2003), based on Stephen King's novel. Kasdan has two sons, Jacob and Jonathan Kasdan, both of whom have followed in their father's footsteps by screenwriting, directing, producing, and acting.

[Susannah Howland (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.