James Foley grew up in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. He graduated with a degree in Pre -Medical and psychoanalysis at the University of Buffalo. Actually he planned to become a psychologist, but instead he discovered his production talent. He began to study film in New York, while he pursued his profession in the evening in a psychiatry as a medical doctor. He later moved on to film school at the University of Southern California.
After the two student short films Silent Night and November 1984 he was with the help of Hal Ashby 's directorial debut, the teenage drama Reckless - Reckless from a screenplay by debutant Chris Columbus, realize. Protagonists were Aidan Quinn and Daryl Hannah.
His second film was the short distance, a drama starring Sean Penn and Christopher Walken. Penn's ex-wife Madonna was impressed by Foley's work and hired him the same for several projects: The Music Videos of Live to Tell (the subject short of on distance), True Blue and the hit Papa Do not Preach and directed the film comedy Who's that Girl.
The Jim Thompson novel adaptation of After Dark, My Sweet at its screenplay earned him recognition from the critics.
In Glengarry Glen Ross, a film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize - winning play by David Mamet, was in 1992 a whole cast of well-known actors in front of the camera. Among Al Pacino, who received an Oscar nomination in the same year won the Oscar for Scent of a Woman. 1995 acted Pacino in Foley's work as a director with 25 cents.
In 1996, in the Foley brought the little-known John Grisham adaptation The chamber to the movies, he turned and Fear - When love brings fear to the unknown actors Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon. Wahlberg took in Foley's next film The Corruptor a Part
After four years out of the Thriller Confidence was created in 2003 under Foley Director. After another four years of canvas abstinence another Foley work comes in April 2007 to the movies: Perfect Stranger with Bruce Willis and Halle Berry.
James Foley's brother Jerry is also a film director.