A producer and director whose early work in television eventually segued into features, D.J. Caruso showed a distinctive blend of noir conventions and dark, almost surreal gallows humor in such moody thrillers as The Salton Sea and Taking Lives. A lifelong film lover who aspired to a career in the entertainment industry from an early age, the Pepperdine University graduate began his career as a production assistant and earned his first credit (associate producer) with the 1991 James Woods/Michael J. Fox action comedy The Hard Way. Caruso later served in varying production capacities on such features as Point of No Return (1993), Drop Zone (1994), and Nick of Time (1995). In 1995, he stepped into the director's chair for an episode of the short-lived sci-fi series VR.5. Gradually gaining confidence behind the camera by helming episodes of such series as Buddy Faro and Martial Law, Caruso directed the short comedy Cyclops, Baby before making the 1998 made-for-TV mystery Black Cat Run. Another television thriller, Mind Prey,was followed with episodes of Dark Angel and Smallville before Caruso moved into feature territory with the neo-noir crime drama The Salton Sea in 2002. Starring Val Kilmer as a former jazz musician who descends into a world of drugs and crime in order to find his wife's murderer, the film performed only moderately well at the box office despite receiving praise for its stylish direction and striking cinematography. Back on the small screen, Caruso directed episodes of The Shield and Robbery Homicide Division. In 2004, he returned to the multiplexes with Taking Lives, a haunting thriller starring Angelina Jolie as an FBI agent on the trail of an elusive serial killer.