Family & Companions
Tired of waiting for his big break, this former struggling actor-dancer segued into producing, making an auspicious theatrical debut with Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" (1992). Bender began his producing career after appearing in bit parts and working on production crews for three years, beginning with student projects at the American Film Institute. He entered commercial features as a grip on low-budget genre fare. His first producing credits were on the direct-to-video horror tale "The Intruder" and the little-seen improvisational drama "A Tale of Two Sisters" (both 1989).
Introduced to Tarantino by a mutual friend, Bender was impressed with the future director's writing and soon the two began working together on "Reservoir Dogs," their first feature. Through one of his acting coaches, Bender was able to get Harvey Keitel involved in the project. The esteemed actor's name gave them the clout to raise the budget to $1.5 million and bring in some fairly accomplished thespians. The film, about a bank robbery that goes awry, was criticized by some for its realistic usage of violence, but overall it was lauded as an impressive debut and established the careers of both Tarantino and Bender.
The year 1994 proved a banner one for Bender. Besides producing Boaz Yakin's critically lauded "Fresh," about a ghetto youngster's struggle with his environment, and Roger Avary's gory and nihilistic "Killing Zoe," about a Paris bank heist, he re-teamed with Tarantino to make "Pulp Fiction," praised as the year's most innovative new film and winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. A comic and sometimes violent drama inspired by the lurid crime fiction of the 1930s and 40s, the film featured an all-star ensemble cast and opened the 1994 New York Film Festival to rave reviews. The film revived John Travolta's status as a movie star, earned blockbuster receipts and copped a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Tarantino and Avary.
Bender was no less busy the following year as 1995 saw him producing "Four Rooms," a comedy-drama anthology showcasing segments helmed by Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Alison Anders and Alexandre Rockwell; "From Dusk Till Dawn" (1996), a Tarantino-scripted, Rodriguez-directed vampire actioner that starred George Clooney, Tarantino and Harvey Keitel and spawned two lesser, barely related sequals; and "White Man's Burden." The latter was a risky, uneven and (perhaps too) subtly satirical drama starring Travolta as a disenfranchised white working stiff at odds with a society dominated by African-Americans. The film marked the return of Harry Belafonte to screen acting after a two decades-plus hiatus. Bender reteamed with Tarantino for "Jackie Brown," adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, and also produced "Good Will Hunting" (both 1997), about an underachieving working-class janitor with a photographic memory and a gift for mathematics. Bender would continue to develop his own A-list features--including writer-director Boaz Yakin's "A Price Above Rubies" (1998), "Anna and the King" (1999) and the underwhelming Brad Pitt-Julia Roberts vehicle "The Mexican," among others--and await the next flash of brillaince from Tarantino, which finally came when they co-produced the long-awaited "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003) and "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" (2004).
Assistant Direction (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Film Production - Main (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Producer (TV Mini-Series)
Moved to L.A. to pursue acting but ended up working behind the scenes on a number of films made through the American Film Institute
First credit in a feature film, as a grip, "The Allnighter"
First credit as a producer, Scott Spiegel's "Intruder" starring writer-director Sam Raimi; also received story credit and played bit part; went straight to video
First substantial acting role, "Lionheart"
Served as 2nd assistant director on "Ulterior Motives/Deadline", a straight to video thriller (also acted)
Produced first theatrical release, "Reservoir Dogs"; first collaboration with actor-writer-director Quentin Tarantino
Produced his most acclaimed film, Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" (also acted in bit part as "Long Hair Yuppie Scum")
Produced "White Man's Burden", the first film from Lawrence Bender Productions
Produced "Good Will Hunting", directed by Gus van Sant; film earned nine Academy Award nominations including Best Picture
With Tarantino, formed A Band Apart Records; entered into agreement to market and distribute recordings made on Madonna's Maverick label
Served as a producer on "Anna and the King"
Joined with producer Kevin Brown to oversee several TV projects, including the HBO pilot "No Matter How Long I Shout"
With Brown, produced the MTV original movie "Anatomy of a Hate Crime", about the murder of college student Matthew Shepard
Was one of the producers of "The Mexican", starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts
Produced Tarantino's two part assassin thriller, "Kill Bill" (released in fall 2003 and and Spring 2004)
Executive produced the TV-miniseries "Legend of Earthsea" on the Sci-Fi Channel
Produced the Al Gore global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth"
Produced Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds"; earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture