August 16, 1941
South Bend, Indiana, United States
Clinical psychologist, Screenwriter, Director, Novelist, Teacher
Psychologist, novelist and Harvard professor turned director of Hollywood films with his directorial debut, the romantic fantasy "Don Juan DeMarco" (1995). Leven began his entertainment career in Boston during the late 1960s founding the political revue group The Proposition, which helped launch the careers of "SNL" alum Jane Curtin and "The Love Boat"'s Fred Grandy. Leven went on to graduate work to train for the heady world of psychotherapy where he remained until 1985 when his first novel, "The Creator" was made into a feature starring Peter O'Toole. This also marked Leven's debut as a screenwriter. He fared less well with "Playing for Keeps" (1986), the dubious directorial debut of Miramax studio heads Bob and Harvey Weinstein. While the story of a boy who turns a dilapidated mansion into a rock 'n' roll hotel may have seemed compelling on paper, the finished product failed to make a dent at the box office.Leven shifted into the director's chair after writing "Don Juan DeMarco." Initially offered as much as $2 million for his script, he held out for a chance to direct. Leven took less money and acquired an impressive cast comprised of Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway. The opened to pleasantly surprised reviews and moderate box office.