Worlds away from Hollywood, Bender studied civil engineering at the University of Maine. He later was a dancer who toured Maine and Massachusetts with the Ralph Robertson Ballet Company. He earned a scholarship to study with Fame choreographer Louis Falco in New York, before his dancing career was cut short by a series of injuries. After dancing, he began acting classes with famed coach Sandra Seacat and appeared in several films and stage productions, including a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream with Ellen Burstyn and Christopher Walken.
Supporting himself with production jobs on New York-based film crews, Bender discovered that he enjoyed the work, and kept his eyes open for an opportunity to produce on his own. In 1987, working with an overall budget of $125,000, he produced writer-director Scott Speigel's The Intruder for Sam Raimi's Renaissance Pictures. The shoot was a crash course in the hard realities of production. It was the kind of thing, he says, "where you know you've survived the worst. It will never be this difficult again."
A year later, Bender met Quentin Tarantino at a BBQ at Scott Speigel's house. The director had decided to make Reservoir Dogs on his own as a super low-budget, black and white, 16mm movie. Bender loved the script and said Give me a month to set this up as a real movie. It was Bender who made Dogs possible by securing the involvement of actor Harvey Keitel.
Tarantino and Bender formed a production company together, A Band Apart, in 1993. The firm has produced films in which Tarantino was involved either as the director or as an actor or both, including Four Rooms (1995), Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), and several projects with other filmmakers, including Fresh and Good Will Hunting. Bender was an executive producer, with Tarantino, on Roger Avary's directorial debut Killing Zoe. In 1996 Bender launched a new division, A Band Apart Commercials, which makes ad spots and music videos.
Bender's films have been honored with nineteen Academy Award nominations. Good Will Hunting received a total of nine nominations, and won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. Bender was nominated for a Producers Guild Award and a Golden Satellite Award for Good Will Hunting, and also received a Producers Guild Award nomination for Pulp Fiction.
Bender recently completed production on The Great Raid, with director John Dahl, and Havana Nights: Dirty Dancing 2 and is currently in pre-production on Casas de Carton, a Spanish language film to be directed by Luis Mandoki. In 2004 he will produce, for A Band Apart and Miramax, Quentin Tarantino's epic war movie Inglorious Bastards.
Lawrence Bender Facts
|Birthplace||Bronx, New York, USA|