Neil LaBute (born March 19, 1963) is an edgy, controversial, and innovative American film director, screenwriter, and playwright.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, LaBute was raised in Spokane, Washington. He studied Theater at Brigham Young University (BYU), where he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At BYU, he also met actor Aaron Eckhart, who would play leading roles in may of his films. At BYU, he produced a number of plays that pushed the envelope of what was allowable at the straight-laced Mormon university, some of which were immediately shut down after their premier. LaBute also did graduate work at the University of Kansas, New York University, and the Royal Academy of London.
In 1993, he returned to Brigham Young University to premier his play In the Company of Men, for which he received an award from the Association for Mormon Letters. Afterward, he taught drama and film at IPFW in Fort Wayne, Indiana in the early 1990s where he adapted and filmed the play, launching his career as a film director. The film won the Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival, and major awards or nominations at the Deauville Film Festival, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Thessaloniki Film Festival, and the Society of Texas Film Critics Awards, and the New York Film Critics Circle.
LaBute has received high praise from critics for his edgy and often unsettling portrayals of human relationships. In the Company of Men portrays two misogynistic businessmen (one played by Aaron Eckhart) cruelly plotting to romance, and then emotionally destroy, a deaf woman. His next film, Your Friends & Neighbors (1998), with an ensemble cast including Aaron Eckhart and Ben Stiller, was a shockingly honest portrayal of the sex lives of three suburban couples who were friends.
In 2000, he wrote and directed an Off-Broadway play entitled "bash: latterday plays", a set of three short plays depicting essentially good people (who happen to be Latter-day Saints) doing disturbing and violent things. One of the plays was a much-talked-about one-person performance by Calista Flockhart.
The Shape of Things (2003)
Nurse Betty (2000)
Tumble (short) (2000)
Your Friends & Neighbors (1998)
In the Company of Men (1997)
The Mercy Seat (2002)
The Distance From Here (2002)
The Shape of Things (2001)
bash: latterday plays (1999)
In the Company of Men (1992)
Filthy Talk For Troubled Times
Sangguinarians & Sycophants