Joel Schumacher
Birth Date:
August 29, 1939
Birth Place:
New York, New York, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
Famous for:
Director of 'St. Elmo's Fire' (1985)
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St. Elmo's Fire


A versatile Hollywood director, writer and producer who first worked as a window display artist and fashion designer, Joel Schumacher attracted public attention with the Brat Pack classic “St. Elmo's Fire” (1985), “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” (1981) and “D.C. Cab” (1983). He gained further recognition with such projects as the teen vampire flick “The Lost Boys” (1987), the critically acclaimed hit version of the John Grisham novels “The Client (1996),” and “A Time to Kill” (1997), and the disappointing “Batman Forever” (1995) and “Batman & Robin” (1997).

“If there's anyone that let's say loved ‘Batman Forever’ and went into ‘Batman & Robin’ with great anticipation, if I disappointed them in anyway, then I really want to apologize cause it wasn't my intention. My intention was just to entertain them.” Joel Schumacher

One of the most successful filmmakers in America, the director rebounded in 2000 with the well-received Vietnam War drama “Tigerland,” which also marked the breakthrough performance of Irish actor Colin Farrell. Since then, he has been known for directing such films as “Phone Booth” (2002, again starred Farrell), “Bad Company” (2002), “Veronica Guerin” (2003), “Phantom of the Opera” (2004) and more recently, “The Number 23” (2007). He is set to direct the upcoming “Town Creek” (2008), “The Crowded Room” (2008) and “1:30 Train” (2008). Schumacher also has directed music videos and TV programs, as well as lent his writing talents for such movies as the 1976 hit “Car Wash.”

On a personal front, Schumacher is openly homosexual. In her memoir, “Natural Blonde,” Liz Smith stated that, “He called himself 'A Sexual Outlaw'” and discussed their love affair and subsequent relationship. Vito Russo elusively criticizes the director in his book “The Celluloid Closet” for Schumacher's contribution in creating a destructive Hollywood image of gay people.


Childhood and Family:

Joel Schumacher was born on August 29, 1939, in New York, New York, to a working-class family. His mother, Marian, is Jewish and originally from Sweden and his father, Frank Schumacher, was a member of the Baptist church and from Knoxville, Tennessee. Joel’s dad passed away when Joel was four years old and he continued to live with his mother who sold dresses to earn a living. Joel briefly attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and was accepted to the Parsons School of Design at New School University on a scholarship. Leaving home at age 15, he supported himself by working a variety of jobs before moving to Los Angeles to start a career in the entertainment industry. He holds a MFA degree from UCLA.

Joel is not married. He is the godfather of Lucas Berman, a son of Bruce Berman who is the president of Worldwide Production at Warner Bros. Pictures, and his wife Nancy.

Batman Forever


New York native Joel Schumacher first worked for several fashion design firms and dressed window displays at department stores before finally realizing that his true love was in filmmaking. He headed to Los Angeles where he started out as a costume designer for films like Frank Perry's “Play it As It Lays” (1972), Paul Mazursky's “Blume in Love” (1973) and Woody Allen's “Sleeper” (1973) and “Interiors” (1978). He displayed his screen writing talents in the musical “Sparkle” (1976), the low-budget hit movie “Car Wash” (1976) and ”The Wiz” (1978).

Schumacher made his feature directorial debut with 1981’s ”The Incredible Shrinking Woman,” which starred Lily Tomlin. The Sci-fi comedy impressed many with its outstanding design sense and peculiar color scheme. He went on to direct the action/comedy ”D.C. Cab” (1983), which he also co-wrote, but it was ”St. Elmo's Fire” (1985) and ”The Lost Boys” (1987) that first brought the director to mainstream Hollywood. Considered to be prototypical movies of the 1980s, the films were two of Schumacher's biggest hits. Their style charmed viewers and their commercial victory encouraged studios to give him bigger projects.

Next, Schumacher helmed Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini in ”Cousins” (1989) and the medical student thriller ”Flatliners” (1990), which introduced him to starlet Julia Roberts who then starred in his next year project, ”Dying Young” (1991). Both “Flatliners” and “Dying Young” were box office failures. Next, Schumacher tried a bit of social commentary with ”Falling Down,” a 1993 psychological drama starring Michael Douglas. The film, which was nominated for a Golden Palm at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival, topped the charts during its opening weekend but quickly fizzled. He resurfaced the following year with a more conventional venture called ”The Client,” based on a best selling novel by John Grisham. Starring Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones and promising newcomer Brad Renfro, the thriller movie was a massive success and won Sarandon a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. This success resulted in a TV spin-off and another Grisham adaptation called ”A Time to Kill” (1996), which starred Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey. The director received rave reviews for his work in the film.

In 1995, Schumacher became the center of attention when he was hired to direct the third installment of the Batman franchise, “Batman Forever.” Budgeted at $80 million, with another $20 million for promotion, and starring Val Kilmer in the title role, Batman Forever was a major summer blockbuster success despite garnering mixed reviews. He went on to direct the fourth sequel, “Batman & Robin” (1997), which starred George Clooney. The film was a critical and commercially flop and essentially killed off the series. Schumacher was nominated for a 1998 Razzie for Worst Director for his work in the latter film.

“Val did me two great favors. When I wanted him to be Batman, he said yes. Then he created a situation which allowed me not to have him play Batman again. They were both happy, happy instances, for which I will always be grateful.” Joel Schumacher on Val Kilmer

After the major disaster, Schumacher attempted to make a comeback with the distressing and brutal crime film “8MM” (1999), starring Nicolas Cage, and was handed a Golden Bear nomination at the 1999 Berlin International Film Festival for his effort in the film. The same year, he also wrote and directed “Flawless,” which starred Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was in 2000 that Schumacher received the best reviews of his career with the gritty Vietnam-era drama “Tigerland,” which introduced Colin Farrell to Hollywood. The praise the film earned put Schumacher's career back on track.

Schumacher reunited with Farrell for his thriller suspense film, “Phone Booth” (2002), which despite being shelved for almost two years, performed well at the box office. With the release of “Bad Company” (2002), a box office misfire starring Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the director made his return to big-budget Hollywood. Following the Cate Blanchett vehicle “Veronica Guerin” (2003), from which he won the Solidarity Award from the San Sebastián International Film Festival, Schumacher worked in the movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway musical “Phantom of the Opera” (2004), which starred Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson. While the film gained mixed reviews, it proved to be very successful and collected three Oscar nominations and three Golden Globe nominations. As for Schumacher, he nabbed a Satellite nomination for his writing.

“The Number 23” was seen as Schumacher's comeback in 2007. Starring Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen, the drama/mystery was released on February 23, 2007. His subsequent project, vampire thriller “Town Creek,” is slated for a 2008 release. Schumacher will also direct the upcoming films “The Crowded Room,” starring Monica Bellucci, and “1:30 Train” (both 2008).


  • Taormina International Film Festival: Taormina Art Award, 2003

  • San Sebastián International Film Festival: Solidarity Award, Veronica Guerin, 2003

  • Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival: Artistic Achievement, 2000

  • ShoWest Convention: Director of the Year, 1997

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