James Spader

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). In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he played the titular character of Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), which he portrayed through voice and motion capture.

James Spader
Spader at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con
James Todd Spader

(1960-02-07) February 7, 1960
Years active1978–present
Victoria Kheel
(m. 1987; div. 2004)
Partner(s)Leslie Stefanson (2002–present)

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

Spader was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and is the youngest of three children. His parents, Jean (née Fraser) and Stoddard ("Todd") Greenwood Spader, were both teachers.[1][2][3][4] Spader grew up in a liberal and progressive home surrounded by "dominant and influential women...that left a great impression".[5] 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.[5] 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.[6][2] 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.[6]


Spader's first major film role was in the film Endless Love (1981), and his first starring role was in Tuff Turf (1985). He rose to stardom in 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.[7]

Spader's roles in the early 1990s included a young, affluent widower opposite Susan Sarandon in the romantic drama White Palace (1990), a yuppie who meets the mysterious 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 sadomasochistic 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 (2002). Longtime writer-producer David E. Kelley said of the resistance 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 said at a TV Game Changers interview, "People will watch him in the movies, but they will never let him in their own home."[8]

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.[7][9][10] 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.[7]

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.[11] 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.[12] The show closed on August 21, 2010 after 297 performances.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] 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".[16]

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

Spader met his ex-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 had two sons. Spader filed for divorce from Kheel in 2004. He began dating his former Alien Hunter (2003) co-star, Leslie Stefanson, in 2002;[17] they have one son.[4]

Spader has said he has strong obsessive-compulsive issues.[18]



Year Title Role Notes
1981Endless LoveKeith ButterfieldCredited as Jimmy Spader
1985Tuff TurfMorgan Hiller
1985The New KidsEddie "Dutra" Dutra
1986Pretty in PinkSteff
1987Baby BoomKen Arrenberg
1987Less Than ZeroRip
1987Wall StreetRoger Barnes
1988Greasy LakeDigbyShort Film
1988Jack's BackJohn / Rick Westford
1989Sex, Lies, and VideotapeGraham Dalton
1989The Rachel PapersDeforest
1990Bad InfluenceMichael Boll
1990White PalaceMax Baron
1991True ColorsTim Gerrity
1992StoryvilleCray Fowler
1992Bob RobertsChuck Marlin
1993The Music of ChanceJack Pozzi
1993Dream LoverRay Reardon
1994WolfStewart Swinton
1994StargateDr. Daniel Jackson
1996CrashJames Ballard
19962 Days in the ValleyLee Woods
1996Keys to TulsaRonnie Stover
1997DriftwoodThe Man
1997Critical CareDr. Werner Ernst
1998Curtain CallStevenson Lowe
2000SupernovaNick Vanzant
2000The WatcherJoel Campbell
2000Slow BurnMarcus
2001Speaking of SexDr. Roger Klink
2002SecretaryE. Edward Grey
2002The StickupJohn Parker
2003I WitnessDouglas Draper
2003Alien HunterJulian Rome
2004Shadow of FearWilliam Ashbury
2009ShortsMr. Black
2012LincolnWilliam N. Bilbo
2014The HomesmanAloysius Duffy
2015Avengers: Age of UltronUltron (voice)Motion capture


Year Title Role Notes
1983DinerFenwickTelevision Short
1983The Family TreeJake Nichols6 episodes
1983Cocaine: One Man's SeductionBuddy GantTelevision film
1983A Killer in the FamilyDonny TisonTelevision film
1984Family SecretsLowell EverallTelevision film
1985StarcrossedJoey CallaghanTelevision film
1994FrasierSteven (voice)Episode: "Slow Tango in South Seattle"
1997SeinfeldJason "Stanky" HankyEpisode: "The Apology"
2003The Pentagon PapersDaniel EllsbergTelevision film
2003–2004The PracticeAlan Shore22 episodes
2004–2008Boston LegalAlan Shore101 episodes
2006Discovery AtlasNarrator (voice)Episode: "China Revealed"
2011–2012The OfficeRobert California25 episodes
2013–presentThe BlacklistRaymond "Red" ReddingtonAlso executive producer

Awards and nominations


  1. https://wareham.wickedlocal.com/article/20071031/NEWS/310319728
  2. Biography.com Editors. "James Spader Biography". The Biography.com website. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 2 December 2015.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  3. "James Spader Biography (1960–)". filmreference.com. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. Goldman, Andres (21 April 2014). "James Spader, the strangest man on TV". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  5. Rebello, Stephen. "PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: JAMES SPADER". Playboy. Archived from the original on 11 December 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  6. "James Spader Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  7. "Awards for James Spader". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  8. "David E. Kelley Reveals Why James Spader Almost Didn't Star in 'Boston Legal'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  9. "James Spader Emmy Award Winner". Emmys.com.
  10. James Spader at the Primetime Emmy Award Database
  11. Greenberg, Karl (2006-10-13). "Acura Targets 'Alpha' Driver In New Ads". Marketing Daily. Archived from the original on 2007-04-29.
  12. "New York Production Listings". Backstage. 24 June 2009.
  13. "James Spader Rips Into Mamet's 'Race'". The New York Times. May 12, 2009.
  14. "James Spader, Carla Gugino, Ryan Phillippe Join Cast of 'By Virtue Fall'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  15. "This Side of the Truth". RickyGervais.com.
  16. Elavsky, Cindy (2012-03-16). "Celebrity Extra". Downriver Sunday Times. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  17. "James Spader Plans to Wed Again". Contact Music. 2005-12-29. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  18. "James Spader: The Strangest Man on TV". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
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