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Biography #2 (for The Shape of Things)

Neil LaBute graduated Brigham Young University and attended the University of Kansas and New York University. While enrolled in the Graduate Dramatic Writing Program at NYU, he was the recipient of a literary fellowship to study at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and also attended the Sundance Institute's Playwrights Lab.

His first feature, In the Company of Men, won the Filmmakers Trophy at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the New York Film Critics Circle's Award for Best First Feature. For his script, LaBute was honored with the Best First Screenplay Award at the 1998 Independent Spirit Awards.

LaBute's second feature, Your Friends & Neighbors, debuted in 1998 and also found success with critics and audiences. The film starred Amy Brenneman, Aaron Eckhart, Catherine Keener, Nastassja Kinski, Jason Patric, and Ben Stiller.

His third feature, Nurse Betty world-premiered at the 2000 Cannes International Film Festival, where it received the Best Screenplay Award. For her performance in the title role, Renée Zellweger earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture [Musical or Comedy].

LaBute's fourth feature, Possession, adapted from A.S. Byatt's celebrated novel of the same name and released by Focus Features, starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, and Jennifer Ehle.

He is partnered with producer Gail Mutrux (who produced Nurse Betty) in the production company Pretty Pictures, which has a first-look deal with Focus Features.

LaBute's plays include Filthy Talk for Troubled Times, Rounder, Sanguinarians & Sycophants, and Ravages. He also penned adaptations of Dracula and Woyzeck, which have been produced at venues in the U.S. and abroad.

Three of his one-act plays were staged by director Joe Mantello under the title bash, latterday plays. The plays were Medea Redux, Iphigenia in Orem, and A Gaggle of Saints. The stagings, produced by Stephen Pevner, were in New York City (in the summer of 1999); in Beverly Hills (in late 1999); and in London, presented by the Almeida Theatre Company (in the winter of 2000).

The Beverly Hills production of bash, latterday plays (starring Ron Eldard, Calista Flockhart, and Paul Rudd) was taped for, and broadcast in August 2000 on, Showtime under LaBute's direction.

LaBute returned to the U.K. to direct the world premiere of his play The Shape of Things (starring Gretchen Mol, Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz, and Frederick Weller), presented in the spring and summer of 2001 by the Almeida Theatre Company. He then staged the play (with the original cast) in the fall of 2001 in New York City, at the Promenade Theater (off-Broadway). The NYC production was nominated for three Lucille Lortel Awards and two Drama Desk Awards. The Shape of Things also had a West Coast production, staged by Richard Stein at the Laguna Playhouse, in May and June of 2002.

His next play, The Distance from Here, had its world premiere in the U.K. in May 2002, staged by David Leveaux and presented by the Almeida Theatre Company. Liesel Matthews, Jason Ritter, and Mark Webber starred. A U.S. premiere, in New York City, is planned for the 2003-2004 season.

LaBute most recently directed the world premiere of his latest play, The Mercy Seat, starring Sigourney Weaver and Liev Schreiber, which debuted in late 2002 at the Manhattan Class Co.

Bio courtesy Focus Features for "The Shape of Things" (11-May-2003)


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