Feb. 7th, 1960
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
James Spader's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
James Todd Spader (born February 7, 1960) is an American actor. His most famous television roles are those of the colorful attorney Alan Shore in The Practice and its spin-off Boston Legal, for which he won three Emmy Awards, and Robert California in The Office. He currently stars as Raymond "Red" Reddington in The Blacklist. He is set to play Ultron in Marvel Studios' upcoming film The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).
Spader was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Jean (née Fraser) and Stoddard Greenwood "Todd" Spader, both teachers. One of Spader's great-great-grandfathers was William Ingersoll Bowditch (of the historic William Ingersoll Bowditch House); Spader's ancestors also include deaf educator Laurent Clerc, mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch, American Revolution general Joshua Babcock, and Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia Paul Mascarene.
During his early education, Spader attended The Pike School (where his mother taught art) and enrolled in the Brooks School (where his father taught), for one year, in North Andover, Massachusetts. Spader later transferred to Phillips Academy, but dropped out of school in the eleventh grade to pursue acting at the Michael Chekhov School in New York City. Before becoming a full-time actor, Spader held a variety of jobs including being a yoga instructor, busboy, truck driver, stable boy, and railroad-car loader.
Spader's first major film role was in 1981 as Brooke Shields' brother in Endless Love, and his first starring role was in Tuff Turf alongside good friend 'Robert Downey, Jr.' However, he did not rise to stardom until 1986, when he played Molly Ringwald's arrogant rich playboy foil Steff in Pretty in Pink. He starred opposite 'Andrew McCarthy', another friend, in Mannequin, and in the film adaptation of Less Than Zero, where he played a drug dealer named Rip. Supporting roles in movies such as Baby Boom and Wall Street followed until his critical breakthrough in 1989. In Sex, Lies, and Videotape, he played a sexual voyeur named Graham Dalton who complicates the lives of three Baton Rouge residents. For this performance, he received the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival. His roles in the early 1990s included playing a young, affluent widower opposite 'Susan Sarandon' in White Palace, John Cusack's best friend in True Colors, and a poker-playing drifter who collides with Mandy Patinkin in The Music of Chance. In 1994, he starred as Egyptologist Daniel Jackson in the blockbuster film Stargate. He played car-accident fetishist James Ballard in the controversial Canadian film Crash in 1996 and assassin Lee Woods in 2 Days in the Valley. In 1997, Spader guest starred in an episode of Seinfeld as an angry recovering alcoholic who refuses to apologize to George for making fun of him. In 2000, he played a drug-addicted detective tracking down serial killer 'Keanu Reeves' in The Watcher. In 2002, he starred as Maggie Gyllenhaal's sadistic boss in the critically acclaimed Secretary.
- His wife, 'Victoria Spader' (qv), was the set decorator for _Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)_ (qv).
- Has two unsuccessful TV pilots, _Diner (1983) (TV)_ (qv) and _Starcrossed (1985) (TV)_ (qv), to his credit.
- Has a photographic memory. He can look at a script and he remembers what the pages look like. As he films a scene he "reads" the page. The only reason he screws up a line is if very similar words (e.g. it and is) are written fairly close together.
- He was working as a janitor at a rehearsal studio in Times Square when he landed his first feature film, Endless Love.
- Is quick to point out that, unlike the sleazy, slime ball characters he is best known for playing, he is actually a nice, friendly guy in real life.
- Auditioned for the film Taps, but eventually lost the part to 'Sean Penn (I)' (qv).
- Has very poor eyesight, and cannot wear contact lenses. Has said that in roles in which he does not wear his eyeglasses, he can barely make out the face of the actor across from him in the scene.
- Born on the same date (7 February 1960) as _"Saturday Night Live" (1975)_ (qv)'s "TV Fun House" writer/cartoonist 'Robert Smigel' (qv), best known as the voice of 'Triumph the insult comic dog' from _"Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (1993)_ (qv).