Batman Forever Director Joel Schumacher Dies at 80 After Cancer Battle

PEOPLE Staff
·3 min read

Prolific Hollywood director Joel Schumacher has died after a year-long cancer battle, PEOPLE confirms. The filmmaker, behind such films as St. Elmo's Fire, Batman Forever, The Client and A Time to Kill, was 80.

Schumacher is best known for directing two films in the Batman franchise: Batman Forever (1995) and Batman and Robin (1997). He put his imprint on the popular movies after taking over for Tim Burton.

Before beginning his career as a director, Schumacher worked as a costume designer on Woody Allen's Sleeper (1973) and Paul Mazursky's Blume in Love (1973).

Schumacher told Allen he dreamed of directing his own films, prompting the Annie Hall creator to respond, "You'll do it. You have it."

His third feature film, St. Elmo's Fire (1985), remains one of his most popular. The drama starred Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy as well as a young Demi Moore as Georgetown graduates exploring post-college life.

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Photo by Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock Batman Forever

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Next was his hit horror-comedy The Lost Boys (1987), starring Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim.

Other notable films of Schumacher's include Falling Down (1983), starring Michael Douglas; the two John Grisham thrillers, The Client (1994) and A Time to Kill (1996); and 2000's Tigerland, which put Colin Farrell on the map.

Schumacher struggled with drugs and alcohol for much of his 20s, telling PEOPLE in 1997 he was “one of the most promiscuous people on the planet. I was someone who went to a party when I was 11 and got home when I was 52.”

Still, the director managed to keep his addictions under control in time for his jobs, saying, “I would stop partying a month or two before I shot a movie and I would stay dry until the wrap shot.” He gained sobriety in 1992, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

It was Schumacher who thought of Susan Sarandon for the lead in The Client saying the actress was “this perfect person: unpretentious, self-effacing, brilliant.”

BENAINOUS/REGLAIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Joel Schumacher

The actress was later nominated for an Academy Award for the role, telling PEOPLE at the time, “I had a great time. He’s one of the most enthusiastic directors I’ve ever worked with.”

Most recently, Schumacher directed a number of episodes of Netflix's House of Cards in 2013.

When asked if he had advice for first-time directors, Schumacher told Venice magazine in 1999, "There's a handful of geniuses that have been touched by the Gods. The rest of them, if they can do it, you can do it. And you can do it better. And if I can do it, you can do it, and you can do it better."

"Be bold, take risks, follow your own instincts, listen to other people only when you really believe in your gut that they're right. Get a great cast," he added. "Get a cinematographer that isn't jealous that you're the director. Get an editor that's not jealous you're the director. You can do it."