Born and raised in working-class New York City, versatile Hollywood director Joel Schumacher started out as an art student. After graduating from Parsons School of Design, he worked for several fashion design firms and dressed window displays at a department store. He found work as a costume designer (Woody Allen's Sleeper and Interiors) and screenwriter (Car Wash and The Wiz) before turning to full-time directing. After a few TV movies, Schumacher made his feature-length directorial debut with the Lily Tomlin comedy The Incredible Shrinking Woman, followed by the Mr. T vehicle D.C. Cab.
Schumacher finally hit mainstream success in 1985 with the Brat Pack classic St. Elmo's Fire, kick-starting the careers of Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Emilio Estevez, among others. This was soon followed by the beloved teen vampire flick The Lost Boys, starring both Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. Schumacher also directed music videos at the end of the '80s, including "Devil Inside" by INXS. With the exception of the Americanized romantic comedy remake Cousins, he seemed to cater almost exclusively to the youth market during this time.
The medical-student thriller Flatliners introduced Schumacher to starlet Julia Roberts, whom he quickly cast in his next movie, the aptly named Dying Young. Both films failed at the box office, so he tried a bit of social commentary with the psychological drama Falling Down starring Michael Douglas. The success of his John Grisham adaptation The Client led to a TV-series spin-off and another Grisham adaptation, A Time to Kill. Unfortunately, Schumacher had already become commonly known as The Man Who Destroyed the Batman Film Franchise with the widely panned Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.
Schumacher tried to make a comeback with the disturbing and brutal crime thriller 8MM starring Nicolas Cage. Fortunately, he made a wiser move back to writing and directing comedy dramas with Flawless, starring Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman. After doing some producing, the director teamed up with action extravaganza producer Jerry Bruckheimer for Bad Company, a box-office dud featuring the odd pairing of Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins. His Vietnam drama Tigerland marked the breakthrough performance of Irish actor Colin Farrell, whom he cast again in his next two features: the crime drama Veronica Guerin and the blockbuster suspense thriller Phone Booth. Schumacher then began work on a film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway musical Phantom of the Opera. Released with an onslaught of hype in the fall of 2004, the film did little to aid the already-flagging musical revival of the 2000s, and was seen only by the most devout Webber fans.
The director chose somewhat safer ground with the flashy psychological thriller The Number 23 in the winter of 2007, reuniting with his Batman Forever star Jim Carrey. A subsequent trip into Nazi occult horror with Blood Creek excited genre fans while offering sharp-eyed moviegoers a glimpse of celebrated actor Michael Fassbinder just as he was being propelled to stardom in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds, and though 2010's Twelve came and went in the blink of an eye, there was no ignoring Nicolas Cage's ferocious scenery chewing in Schumacher's 2012 thriller Tresspass -- a mini-masterpiece of unintentional camp.