Not every screenwriter will find themselves nominated for an Oscar with only two films under their belt, but Richard LaGravenese did just this. 1991’s critical darling, The Fisher King. catapaulted LaGravanese into the limelight, the Brooklyn-born writer has been delivering memorable films ever since. From Alfonso CuarÃ³n (A Little Princess) to Clint Eastwood (The Bridges of Madison County) to Robert Redford (The Horse Whisperer), directors have profited from LaGravenese’s universal interpretations of love, loss and strength.
With an Academy Award nomination practically right out of the gate, LaGravenese’s career has been the envy of many struggling writers; however, LaGravenese made some early detours before falling into the screenwriting trade. As a child he spent his days watching “The Million Dollar Matinee” instead of playing with the neighborhood children. And while this indicates an early affinity for the medium of film, LaGravenese’s first foray into artistic expression came when he pursued a degree in acting and experimental theater at New York University. Upon graduation, his talent for dialogue ultimately led him from stand-up comedy to a writing credit on David Greenwalt and Aaron Russo’s Rude Awakening (1989).
In the years since his first success, LaGravenese has branched out to directing, too. Of the five movies he has made, he has written four of them himself. On January 5th, the writer-director’s latest effort, Freedom Writers, was released nationwide. Starring Hilary Swank, Imelda Staunton and Patrick Dempsey, the film is the story of a Los Angeles teacher who guides her disadvantaged students to higher education. It was adapted from the nonfiction book, The Freedom Writers Diary, written by the youths of Long Beach after the L.A. riots. For more information on the film and LaGravenese’s work, visit www.freedomwriters.com.
Sound Off: Seems like this writer-director may have found a muse! Next up, Richard LaGravenese will be directing his screenplay, P.S., I Love You, also starring Hilary Swank. Who is your favorite director/muse pairing and why? Let us know in the comments section!
Photo: Director Richard LaGravenese on the set of Paramount Pictures’ Freedom Writers.