JONATHAN KAPLAN (Director) has had a prolific career in feature films, spanning over 25 years and characterized by the merger of popular entertainment with social relevance
(Director) has had a prolific career in feature films, spanning
over 25 years and characterized by the merger of popular entertainment
with social relevance. His finest work often emerges from the
extraordinary performances he elicits from actresses in compelling,
socially relevant dramas, and BROKEDOWN PALACE was a project ideally
suited to Kaplan.
His feature film credits include The Accused, the story
of a rape victim forced to fight for her rights in court, for
which Jodie Foster won her first Academy Award as Best Actress;
Love Field, which starred Michelle Pfeiffer (who received
an Oscar nomination) and explored racial issues against the backdrop
of the early l960s; Immediate Family, which starred Glenn
Close, James Woods and Mary Stuart Masterson and focused on the
changing nature of the family, and Unlawful Entry, a thriller
which starred Kurt Russell, Madeline Stowe and Ray Liotta and
examined the often thin line between the criminal and those upholding
Kaplan. born in Paris, comes from a show-business family. His
father was composer Sol Kaplan. and his mother was actress Frances
Heflin, who was well known to television audiences as Erica Kane's
mother Mona on the long-running soap opera "All My Children."
She was the sister of actor Van Hefi in. Kaplan's father was among
the many blacklisted writers in Hollywood who lost their jobs
during the McCarthy era.
Kaplan's career in the entertainment industry began when he was
11, when his mother took him along when she went to see director
Elia Kazan about understudying Teresa Wright in the Broadway production
of "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs." Kazan asked
young Kaplan to understudy the role of Wright's son. A bout of
chicken pox plagued the cast, and Kaplan and his mother found
themselves on stage together - real-life mother and son playing
the same roles on the stage. Kaplan subsequently continued his
acting training in high school, joining Elaine May's off-Broadway
improvisational children's workshop.
After two years at the University of Chicago - from which he was
expelled for anti-Vietnam protests - Kaplan transferred to New
York University's undergraduate film school, where one of his
teachers was Martin Scorsese. Kaplan's short film, Stanley
Stanley, won the grand prize at the 1970 National Student
Film Festival. Following college, he spent two years as a lighting
designer for Bill Graham's Fillmore East and as a freelance editor
for promotional, industrial and television films.
Kaplan ultimately came to the attention of producer Roger Corman,
who hired him in 1972 to direct Night Call Nurses, which
was made in 13 days for a budget of $75,000. The results impressed
Corman enough to give Kaplan another picture - The Student
Teachers. This film impressed Corman's brother Gene, who then
hired him to direct The Slams, a bigger budget ($300,000)
prison escape movie that starred Jim Brown. Kaplan's next picture,
Truck Turner, starring Isaac Hayes, was equally low-budget
and commercially successful.
Meanwhile, Kaplan and NYU classmate Ken Friedman had developed
an idea for a modem-day western, using trucks instead of horses.
In 1975, White Line Fever, a powerful story of corruption
in the trucking industry, was made for a budget of $1.5 million
and went on to gross over $50 million internationally. Kaplan
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