James Spader

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James Spader
The Blacklist - James Spader (cropped).jpg
Spader at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con
BornJames Todd Spader
(1960-02-07) February 7, 1960 (age 58)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Years active1978–present
Victoria Kheel
(m. 1987; div. 2004)
Partner(s)Leslie Stefanson (2002–present)

James Todd Spader (born February 7, 1960) is an American actor. He is best known for portraying eccentric characters in films such as the drama Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), the action science fiction film Stargate (1994), the controversial psychological thriller Crash (1996), and the erotic romance Secretary (2002).

His best-known television roles are those of attorney Alan Shore in The Practice and its spin-off Boston Legal (for which he won three Emmy Awards), and Robert California in the comedy-mockumentary The Office. He currently stars as high-profile criminal-turned-FBI-informant Raymond "Red" Reddington in the NBC crime drama The Blacklist, for which he has earned two Golden Globe Award nominations.

Early life[edit]

Spader was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and is the youngest of three children. His parents, Jean (née Fraser) and Stoddard Greenwood "Todd" Spader, were both teachers.[1][2][3] Spader grew up in a liberal and progressive home, saying regarding his mother and two sisters, "I was always around dominant and influential women, and that left a great impression".[4] During his early education, he attended multiple private schools, including The Pike School, where his mother taught art, and the Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts, where his father taught.[4] He later transferred to Phillips Academy before dropping out at the age of seventeen and moving to New York City to pursue his acting career.[5][1] On his way to becoming a full-time actor, Spader undertook jobs such as bartending, teaching yoga, driving a meat truck, loading railroad cars, and being a stable boy.[5]


Spader at the San Diego Comic-Con International to promote Avengers: Age of Ultron

Spader's first major film role was in the film Endless Love (1981), and his first starring role was in Tuff Turf (1985). However, he did not rise to stardom until 1986, when he played the rich, arrogant playboy Steff in Pretty in Pink. He co-starred in Mannequin (1987) and the film adaptation of Less Than Zero (1987), in which he played a drug dealer named Rip. Supporting roles in films such as Baby Boom (1987) and Wall Street (1987) followed until his breakthrough in Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), in which he played a sexual voyeur who complicates the lives of three Baton Rouge, Louisiana residents. For this performance, he received the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.[6]

Spader's roles in the early 1990s included a young, affluent widower opposite Susan Sarandon in the romantic drama White Palace (1990), Rob Lowe in the Noir drama Bad Influence (1990), John Cusack's best friend in the drama True Colors (1991), and a poker-playing drifter in The Music of Chance (1993). In 1994, he starred as Egyptologist Daniel Jackson in the sci-fi film Stargate. In 1996, he played car accident fetishist James Ballard in the controversial Canadian film Crash and assassin Lee Woods in 2 Days in the Valley. In 1997, Spader guest starred in the Seinfeld episode "The Apology", 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 a serial killer in The Watcher. In 2002, he starred as a sadistic boss in Secretary.

From 2004 to 2008, Spader starred as Alan Shore in the series Boston Legal, in which he reprised his role from the television series The Practice. Longtime writer-producer David E. Kelley said he received a lot of push back from the powers that be when he first tried to cast Spader in the role."I was told that no one would ever welcome James Spader into their living room," Kelley recalled at a TV Game Changers panel presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. "People will watch him in the movies, but they will never let him in their own home."[7]

He won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2004 for his portrayal on The Practice and won it again in 2005 and 2007 for Boston Legal.[6][8][9] With the 2005 win, he became one of only a few actors to win an Emmy award while playing the same character in two different series. Even rarer, he won a second consecutive Emmy while playing the same character in two different series. He also won the Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical for Boston Legal in 2006.[6]

In October 2006, Spader narrated "China Revealed", the first episode of Discovery Channel's documentary series Discovery Atlas. He has also done the voice-over in several television commercials for Acura.[10] He starred in Race, a play written and directed by David Mamet, which opened on December 6, 2009 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway.[11] The show closed on August 21, 2010 after 297 performances.[12] In March 2011, he was named to star in the film By Virtue Fall, written and to be directed by Sheldon Turner. As of June 2011, the movie was in pre-production.[13]

Spader guest starred as Robert California in "Search Committee", the season 7 finale of The Office. On June 27, 2011, it was announced that he would join the cast on a permanent basis.[14] He planned to stay only through the eighth season, and while the original plan was just to do the guest appearance, executive producer Paul Lieberstein said: "those two scenes became a season".[15]

Spader stars in the NBC series The Blacklist, which premiered on NBC September 23, 2013. He portrays Raymond "Red" Reddington, one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives. He also played villainous robot Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).

Personal life[edit]

Spader met his first wife, decorator Victoria Kheel, while working in a yoga studio after he moved to New York City in the 1980s. They married in 1987 and have two sons, Sebastian (born 1989) and Elijah (born 1992). Spader filed for divorce from Kheel in 2004. He began dating his former Alien Hunter (2003) co-star, Leslie Stefanson, in 2002;[16] they have one son, Nathaneal (born August 2008).[3]

Spader has admitted to having strong obsessive-compulsive issues.[17]



Year Title Role Notes
1978 Team-Mates Jimmy
1981 Endless Love Keith Butterfield Credited as Jimmy Spader
1985 Tuff Turf Morgan Hiller
1985 The New Kids Eddie "Dutra" Dutra
1986 Pretty in Pink Steff
1987 Mannequin Richards
1987 Baby Boom Ken Arrenberg
1987 Less Than Zero Rip
1987 Wall Street Roger Barnes
1988 Greasy Lake Digby
1988 Jack's Back John / Rick Westford Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actor
1989 Sex, Lies, and Videotape Graham Dalton Cannes Film Festival — Best Actor
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
1989 The Rachel Papers Deforest
1990 Bad Influence Michael Boll
1990 White Palace Max Baron
1991 True Colors Tim Gerrity
1992 Storyville Cray Fowler
1992 Bob Roberts Chuck Marlin
1993 The Music of Chance Jack Pozzi
1993 Dream Lover Ray Reardon
1994 Wolf Stewart Swinton Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1994 Stargate Dr. Daniel Jackson
1996 Crash James Ballard
1996 2 Days in the Valley Lee Woods
1996 Keys to Tulsa Ronnie Stover
1997 Driftwood The Man
1997 Critical Care Dr. Werner Ernst
1998 Curtain Call Stevenson Lowe
2000 Supernova Nick Vanzant
2000 The Watcher Joel Campbell
2000 Slow Burn Marcus
2001 Speaking of Sex Dr. Roger Klink
2002 Secretary E. Edward Grey
2002 The Stickup John Parker
2003 I Witness Douglas Draper
2003 Alien Hunter Julian Rome
2004 Shadow of Fear William Ashbury
2009 Shorts Mr. Black
2012 Lincoln William N. Bilbo Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2014 The Homesman Aloysius Duffy
2015 Avengers: Age of Ultron Ultron (voice and motion-capture) Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Virtual Performance
2018 Hitmen for Hire Paul Bryce


Year Title Role Notes
1983 The Family Tree Jake Nichols 6 episodes
1983 Cocaine: One Man's Seduction Buddy Gant Television film
1983 A Killer in the Family Donny Tison Television film
1984 Family Secrets Lowell Everall Television film
1985 Starcrossed Joey Callaghan Television film
1994 Frasier Steven (voice) Episode: "Slow Tango in South Seattle"
1997 Seinfeld Jason "Stanky" Hanky Episode: "The Apology"
2003 The Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg Television film
2003–2004 The Practice Alan Shore 22 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
2004–2008 Boston Legal Alan Shore 101 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2005, 2007)
Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series (2007, 2008, 2009)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2007, 2008, 2009)
2006 Discovery Atlas Narrator (voice) Episode: "China Revealed"
2011–2012 The Office Robert California 19 episodes
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
2013–present The Blacklist Raymond "Red" Reddington 111 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (2014–15)
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor on Television

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ a b Biography.com Editors. "James Spader Biography". The Biography.com website. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  2. ^ "James Spader Biography (1960–)". filmreference.com. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ a b Goldman, Andres (21 April 2014). "James Spader, the strangest man on TV". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b Rebello, Stephen. "PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: JAMES SPADER". Playboy. Archived from the original on 11 December 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  5. ^ a b "James Spader Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  6. ^ a b c "Awards for James Spader". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  7. ^ "David E. Kelley Reveals Why James Spader Almost Didn't Star in 'Boston Legal'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  8. ^ "James Spader Emmy Award Winner". Emmys.com.
  9. ^ James Spader at the Primetime Emmy Award Database
  10. ^ Greenberg, Karl (2006-10-13). "Acura Targets 'Alpha' Driver In New Ads". Marketing Daily. Archived from the original on 2007-04-29.
  11. ^ "New York Production Listings". Backstage. 24 June 2009.
  12. ^ "James Spader Rips Into Mamet's 'Race'". The New York Times. May 12, 2009.
  13. ^ "James Spader, Carla Gugino, Ryan Phillippe Join Cast of 'By Virtue Fall'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  14. ^ "This Side of the Truth". RickyGervais.com.
  15. ^ Elavsky, Cindy (2012-03-16). "Celebrity Extra". Downriver Sunday Times. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  16. ^ "James Spader Plans to Wed Again". Contact Music. 2005-12-29. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  17. ^ "James Spader: The Strangest Man on TV". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-01-07.

External links[edit]