As flamboyant as any character in his movies, Joel Silver can be credited along with Jerry Bruckheimer as practically reinventing the action film genre in the 1980s. Born in New Jersey, he attended the New York University Film School. After college, he worked at Lawrence Gordon Pictures, earning his first onscreen credit as associate producer of The Warriors (1979). He eventually became president of the motion picture division of Gordon Pictures. Together with Gordon, Silver produced 48 Hrs. (1982) and Streets of Fire (1984). In 1985 he formed Silver Pictures and continued producing hit action films such as Commando (1985), the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, the first two films of the “Die Hard” franchise and the upcoming “Matrix” franchise of action films. Despite these successes, he has hit some rough spots and has been banned from working on several studio lots. He was unable to produce the “48 Hrs” sequel Another 48 Hrs. (1990) and the third “Die Hard” film, Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) because of past run-ins with studio executives. Because of his habit of wearing sport shirts and talking loudly and quickly, he has been parodied in several films, even spoofing himself in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) by playing the frustrated cartoon director in the film’s opening sequence. In order to perform in that role, he had to use an alias to get onto the Walt Disney lot, and his onscreen credit was not revealed to Disney executives until the very last minute. Joel Silver pioneered the practice of shooting action movies in Australia with the “Matrix” films, and has been credited with either inventing or reinventing the careers of Eddie Murphy, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steven Seagal. He was mentioned in Halle Berry’s Academy Award acceptance speech. Other credits include non-action pictures, ranging from Xanadu (1980) and Weird Science (1985) to HBO’s long-running TV series, Tales from the Crypt (1989).
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