Richard LaGravenese was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Emerson College and NYU's Experimental Theatre Wing at the Tisch School of the Arts.
He wrote (and sold) his first piece of writing for the Off Broadway musical revue, A My Name is Alice directed by Joan Michlin Silver. His sketch material for a comedy duo act led to an offer by former Saturday Night Live writer Neil Levy, to co-write the script for the 1989 release, Rude Awakening.
Mr. LaGravenese began his solo screenwriting career with his original screenplay The Fisher King, directed by Terry Gilliam. The film went on to earn five Academy Award nominations, including Best Screenplay, winning Best Supporting Actress for Mercedes Ruehl. His subsequent screenwriting credits include: The Ref, (directed by Ted Demme), A Little Princess (directed by Alfonso Cuaron), Unstrung Heroes (directed by Diane Keaton), The Bridges of Madison County (directed by Clint Eastwood), The Mirror Has Two Faces (directed by Barbra Streisand), The Horse Whisperer (directed by Robert Redford), and Beloved (directed by Jonathon Demme).
Mr. LaGravenese directed his original screenplay for the critically acclaimed Living Out Loud starring Danny DeVito, Holly Hunter and Queen Latifah. He joined other directors for the omnibus Paris J'taime with stars Fanny Ardent and Bob Hoskins.
In 2007, Mr. LaGravenese wrote and directed two film releases: Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey (the screenplay was awarded the Humanitas Prize); and P.S. I Love You, with Hilary Swank, Kathy Bates, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Harry Connick Jr., Gina Gershon and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Mr. LaGravenese co-directed and co-produced (with the late Ted Demme), a three part documentary for IFC entitled A Decade Under the Influence, which explores the breakthrough films and filmmakers of the 1970s. The film won the National Board of Review William K. Everson Award for film history and earned an Emmy nomination for best documentary.