Lawrence Kasdan hates not making movies.
“I want to make as many as I can. It’s only a question of getting the money,” the director behind “The Big Chill,” “Body Heat” and “The Accidental Tourist” tells Big Hollywood.
Despite that dizzying track record, Kasdan’s last screen credit until recently was the 2003 Stephen King shocker “Dreamcatcher.”
So Kasdan and his wife, screenwriter Kasdan, went indie for their latest film, “Darling Companion.” They didn’t lack for star power – cast members Kevin Kline, Diane Keaton, Richard Jenkins and Dianne Weist all worked for scale. But the Kasdans had to abide by modern Hollywood rules – low-key comedies with older casts won’t coax major studios to open up their wallets.
“The industry has changed,” he says. “The reality is Hollywood used to make character-driven dramas and comedies … the kinds of movies I like to write have gone out of style. There’s a home for them in independent film. That just means you’re gonna have to work this way and ask people favors to do it."
“Darling Companion” stars Kline and Keaton as an older couple who lose their rescue dog only to discover their marriage needs rescuing, too.
Lawrence and Meg Kasdan previously co-wrote 1991’s “Grand Canyon,” and they found inspiration for their second collaboration closer to home. They briefly lost their own dog, Mack, and when they started sharing what happened with their friends the idea for a screenplay began to bloom. Slowly, at first, they both say.
“I started telling people this story … and they said, ‘oh, you gotta write that … even if you just write it down.’ We started telling it to people over the next year,” Meg Kasdan says.
“This movie really came out of the dog and then wound up being about relationships,” Lawrence Kasdan says. “Meg says it’s a story about a woman who loves her dog more than her husband.”
The long-married couple said their working relationship didn’t threaten their own bond. When its time to write, the person who “feels the strongest” usually wins the argument, Meg Kasdan says.
Going indie wasn’t as big a change as the longtime writer/director expected. No matter the budget, directors are always squaring off against time – or a lack thereof.
The Kasdans last worked together on “Grand Canyon,” a sprawling saga of interconnected characters trying to make sense out of late 20th century America.
“It’s the most satisfying experience I’ve had [in movies],” Lawrence Kasdan says of a film which starred Kline, Steven Martin, Danny Glover and Mary McDonnell.
“We tried to throw in a lot of things we were interested in at the time,” adds Meg Kasdan.
Now, with “Darling Companion” under his belt, Lawrence Kasdan may follow the path forged by many of his former film peers – to the small screen.
“I do think the best stuff is happening on TV, no question,” he says. “People wanna do good work, and movies do not offer opportunities for actors."