Born in Chicago, Linson grew up in Hollywood. He attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1960 and finished his degree at the University of California at Los Angeles. He graduated from UCLA Law School in 1967 but never practiced.
In the 25 years since he produced his first motion picture, Art Linson has distinguished himself in Hollywood by developing scripts and stories that attract the highest caliber talent, resulting in some of the most admired and successful motion pictures of the last two decades. Linson's credits range from such commercial and critical hits as The Untouchables (winner of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor Sean Connery), Heat (Robert De Niro and Al Pacino), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Sean Penn), Car Wash and Scrooged, to unusual classics such as Melvin and Howard (winner of two Academy Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, Mary Steenburgen), Fight Club (Brad Pitt and Edward Norton), The Edge (Anthony Hopkins), Heist (Gene Hackman), Casualties of War and This Boy's Life (Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio).
Linson has also published books about the experiences of life in Hollywood, including his 2002 work What Just Happened?, which was made into a film starring Robert De Niro in 2008.