He started out working for Kubrick as a researcher, most prominently on Napoleon, Kubrick's never-filmed epic about the French military leader, in 1968, when Kubrick asked him, as a German speaker to accompany him to Romania to organise the army scenes for the film. Harlan acted as Kubrick's executive producer for Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Eyes Wide Shut (1999), and was an assistant to the producer for A Clockwork Orange (1971). Harlan was also executive producer for Steven Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001), a collaboration between Spielberg and Kubrick. Harlan also directed a feature-length documentary about Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001).
In 2009 he assisted Alison Castle, a Taschen editor, in creating the book Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made and gave a talk about the Kubrick Napoleon archives at Cambridge Film Festival in September 2010 with Alison Castle. He is the nephew of the German filmmaker Veit Harlan, best known for his work during the Third Reich including Jud Süß (1940), an antijewish propaganda film. Jan Harlan has three sons, Manuel, Dominic and Ben. He is married to Maria.
He has for several years been a regular guest lecturer at the European Film College, and also at the University of Hertfordshire's Film and Television degrees, for which he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in 2011.
- "??". Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-09-19. (subscription required)
-  Archived July 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
- "Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon. TASCHEN Books (Limited Edition)". Taschen.com. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
-  Archived September 18, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "2011 Graduates Fellows And Honorary Doctorates Recognised | University of Hertfordshire". Herts.ac.uk. 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
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