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 1983 he formed Silver Pictures and initially set up shop at Universal Pictures to produce Brewster's Millions (1985) before going to Fox 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 three films of "Matrix" franchise of action films. He had then subsequently joined Warner Bros. in 1987 after leaving Fox. 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), the third "Die Hard" film, Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) and the fourth "Matrix" installment The Matrix Resurrections (2021) 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. He had worked in television, setting up his own television branch with his first project Parker Kane (1990), a project that would eventually never made to series, and then worked at HBO for many years, until he found a home at Warner Bros. Television in 1998, where he had developed two UPN shows The Strip (1999) and Freedom (2000) before finding commercial success with the hit Veronica Mars (2004). In 1999, Silver Pictures had teamed up with film director/producer Robert Zemeckis to set up Dark Castle Entertainment to produce genre and horror films with the first film under Dark Castle being House on Haunted Hill (1999). 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), Weird Science (1985) and Fred Claus (2007) to HBO's long-running TV series, Tales from the Crypt (1989). He had resigned from his founding production company in 2019.
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