He was born November 17, 1947, in Los Angeles, California, the son of Burt Lancaster (1913 – 1994) and Norma Anderson (1917 – 1988). He developed polio at an early age, leaving one of his legs shorter than the other.
Lancaster, a lookalike for his famous father at the time, guest-starred in an episode of the television series The Big Valley in 1967. In 1973, Lancaster played the role of "King", the boyfriend of a murdered college coed in The Midnight Man, a mystery film starring and co-directed by his father, released in 1974.
In 1982, he worked on a first draft script of a adaptation of Stephen King's novel of Firestarter for Carpenter to direct. But months later of the same year, Carpenter hired Bill Phillips to work on another draft that resembled Lancaster's draft. When The Thing bombed, Universal replaced Carpenter with Mark L. Lester.