No Actor Has Evolved More than James Spader Has

As everyone gets set for a new episode of The Blacklist tonight I couldn’t help but start thinking about the career of James Spader.  Just yesterday I mentioned how Howie Mandel has essentially had two careers.  It’s curly haired Mandel and bald Mandel.  That’s basically it.  As soon as Mandel was on Deal or No Deal, his post curly hair began and his fro days were over.  James Spader has had a very similar career path.

For those that are old enough to remember, James Spader was the perfect pretty boy, yuppy, ivy league type character in the 80s.  He wowed us with his bravado as Steph in Pretty in Pink.  He played a crazy “white collar” drug dealer in Less than Zero.  Even in Baby Boom he was the up and coming snotty advertising executive nipping on Diane Lane’s heels.  Spader had long, beautiful hair, a death stare that women loved and 80s appeal that was very high.   However if you look at his career, the 90s were effectively a blur.   He was a guest star on Seinfield.  I mean that’s just weird.  Even though it was awesome it just didn’t fit his profile at all.  Sure in 1990 he starred in White Palace but that was really just carry over from the 80s.  So when did his career take a turn?

I’m going out on a limb and saying it was with the movie Supernova.  When you see that movie you will not believe it’s James Spader.  He had to have taken steroids for that film and all of a sudden people must have been talking.  “James Spader!”  “That guy’s still around?”  I mean seriously.  Look at his 90s work.  It’s almost non existent.   Now, Supernova was done in 1997 and he really didn’t have a significant role until Secretary which was probably his true turning point and role that landed him Alan Shore on The Practice which became Boston Legal.

Still though, I think it was that transformation in 1997 that set up Spader to become TV James Spader.  Once he landed the role of Alan Shore he never turned back.   He had a slight hiatus again but he killed it on The Office and then landed Red on The Blacklist.  The rest is history.

I just have a very hard time looking at the Pretty in Pink picture realizing that’s actually James Spader.



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