Lawrence Kasdan is regarded as one of the most successful screenwriters, directors and producers in Hollywood history. In addition to The Bodyguard, twenty-one other motion pictures round out his long and impressive career. Here we take a look at some of his most iconic and successful films.
CO-WRITER & DIRECTOR, 1990
The sequel to Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back follows Luke Skywalker as he trains to become a Jedi Knight while evading the evil reach of Darth Vader, who is determined to lure Skywalker to the Dark Side of the Force. Leigh Brackett initially wrote the first draft of the script in 1979 before losing her battle with cancer. The film's creator and producer, George Lucas, then hired Kasdan, who had just written Raiders of the Lost Ark for him, to continue Brackett's work and author all subsequent drafts. Earning more than $538 million worldwide, The Empire Strikes Back was the highest grossing film of 1980. The film was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America and in 2010, joined Raiders of the Lost Ark in the National Film Registry.
Inspired by serials from the 1930s and 1940s, the world famous action-adventure film was directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by George Lucas and starred Harrison Ford. Eminent archeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US Government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can track it down. Raiders of the Lost Ark was the top-earner at the box office in 1981 and remains one of the highest-grossing films ever made. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the film won four Oscars and also garnered Kasdan a nomination for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen by the Writers Guild of America. In 1999, the US Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant."
SCREENWRITER & DIRECTOR, 1981
Kasdan's critically acclaimed directorial debut of his original screenplay, Body Heat starred William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Mickey Rourke. Set in the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, the film centers around a woman who convinces her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband. Body Heat is viewed as one of the best of the American neo-noir films. Kasdan received accolades for both directing and writing, earning a Best Director nomination from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and a nomination for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen by the Writers Guild of America. The film also launched the career of Kathleen Turner, who received a Best Newcomer nomination from both BAFTA and the Golden Globe Awards.
Set one year after The Empire Strikes Back, the third installment of the original Star Wars trilogy sees the Rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke Skywalker tries to save his father from the Dark Side of the Force. Lucas enlisted Kasdan's help in co-writing the script. Return of the Jedi grossed over $475 million worldwide and was nominated for four Academy Awards and six BAFTA Awards.
CO-WRITER & DIRECTOR, 1983
Co-written with Barbara Benedek, The Big Chill depicts a group of baby boomers whose friend's suicide prompts a weekend-long reunion 15 years after college. The ensemble cast included Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline and Jobeth Williams. Kevin Costner was cast as the deceased friend Alex, but all scenes showing his face were later cut. Kasdan's wife Meg personally coordinated the legendary soundtrack, which went on to sell over 7 million copies worldwide. The film received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay, and won Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen from the Writers Guild of America, while Kasdan was nominated for Best Director by the Directors Guild of America.
CO-WRITER & DIRECTOR, 1985
A sprawling western starring Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner, Silverado was directed and produced by Kasdan based on a script co-written with his brother Mark. The film depicts four cowboys that band together to right the injustices in the small town of Silverado. To make up for cutting Costner out of The Big Chill, Kasdan wrote his Silverado part with the actor in mind and it became the breakout role that set him on the path to star in the worldwide smash-hit THE BODYGUARD.
CO-WRITER & DIRECTOR, 1988
Based on the best-selling 1985 novel by Anne Tyler, Kasdan co-adapted the book with Frank Galati and directed the film for the screen. Starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist follows the emotionally distant author of the eponymous travel guidebooks as he tries to piece together his life after his son is killed and his marriage falls apart. The film was nominated for a BAFTA Award, two Golden Globe Awards, four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, and earned Geena Davis an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Along with Tylerand Galati, Kasdan received the USC Scripter Award honoring "the author(s) and screenwriter(s) of the year's best motion picture adapted from a printed work."
CO-WRITER & DIRECTOR, 1990
Kasdan's first writing collaboration with his wife Meg, Grand Canyon revolves around six residents from different backgrounds whose lives intersect in present-day Los Angeles. Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Steve Martin, Alfred Woodard, Mary-Louise Parker and Mary McDonnell star. The husband and wife writing team earned Best Screenplay nominations from the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and the WGA. The film went on to win the Golden Bear Award for Best Picture at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.
Kasdan returned to the western genre to direct Wyatt Earp, re-teaming him with Kevin Costner alongside Dennis Quaid and Gene Hackman. He later directed the romantic comedies French Kiss, starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline, and Mumford, earning him the Best Screenplay Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Working with fellow writing heavyweight William Goldman, he co-adapted Stephen King's novel Dreamcatcher for the screen and directed the sci-fi thriller starring Morgan Freeman. Most recently, he directed and co-wrote Darling Companion, released in 2012.
In 2006, the Writers Guild of America honored Kasdan with its Laurel Award for advancing the literature of motion pictures. The Kasdans have two sons, Jake and Jon, both writer/directors.