This son of famed British filmmaker Basil Dearden grew up on movie sets and was bored by the process of moviemaking. Nevertheless James Dearden decided to follow in the family business. After completing his studies at Oxford, he worked as runner and editing room assistant for a company that produced TV commercials before making his own short films. One of his first efforts was "The Contraption" (1978) which earned him a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Another, the 47-minute "Diversion" (1980) dealt with themes of sexuality and betrayal that he expanded in both the made-for-cable film "The Cold Room" (HBO, 1984, which he wrote and directed) and his breakthrough screenplay "Fatal Attraction" (1987). Although Adrian Lyne directed "Fatal Attraction" and Dearden's more ironic original ending was altered to suit the tastes of preview audiences, Dearden reaped some of the benefits, earning an Oscar nod for his script and a chance to helm his first full-length feature "Pascali's Island" (1988), a well-acted but ultimately disappointing adaptation of Barry Unsworth's novel of political and psychological intrigue. The film's uneven editing, overblown symbolism and lack of passion undermined it, although the writer-directed proclaimed that the actors (Ben Kingsley, Charles Dance and Helen Mirren) had delivered exactly what he wanted. Dearden's theme of sexual intrigue permeated "A Kiss Before Dying" (1991), a watchable but disappointing remake of a 1956 film noir. He made contributions to the script of Lyne's controversial remake of "Lolita" (1997) before turning his attentions to producing, writing and directing the biopic "Rogue Trader" (1998), about notorious banker Nick Leeson whose dealings brought about the fall of Barings Bank.