"In The Spotlight"

Remember the vicious preppie who sneered at Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink? James Spader is at it again. Sporting stubble on a sunburned face, dramatic eyeglasses of black plastic and gold, and a chip of some precious stone glinting in an earlobe, he hardly looks the cutthroat businessman he plays in Baby Boom his new movie starring Diane Keaton. Nor does he resemble the lawyer hip-deep in insider trading he portrays in Oliver Stone's forthcoming Wall Street.

"The bad guys I love playing in movies have gotten me more good exposure than the nice ones", the twenty-seven-year-old actor says. "I enjoy offbeat roles. All over the world there are conniving, insincere, inefficient people who slide through life because they're good at playing politics. In Baby Boom I'm taking this person and saying, 'See this rat? He's working in the office right next door to you!'. I didn't condone the crumb I played in Pretty in Pink, but I understood where his motivation came from - qualities that everyone shares: insecurity, loneliness, lack of self-confidence. There's good reason why people do what they do and say what they say."

Spader was born in Boston to parents who were teachers. Ever since he was eleven he's spent his vacations doing manuel labor. He has loaded boxcars, driven a refrigerated truck for a meat packer, shoveled out stalls at a riding academy, and crewed a sailboat. "Putting on a suit is very foreign to me, "he says. "I learned a great deal working with those guys. Real people are concerned with getting food on the table and trying to pay off a car, to raise a family. Instead of doing a movie about alcoholism on the job, you're right there in the middle of real life! Meeting people, seeing different lives, different worlds. "Acting is freedom. It's also very insecure, with a great deal of rejection. Whenever I'm feeling anxious or too self-absorbed, I'll see some guys in the street digging a ditch and feel like asking if I can give one of them an hour's break and take his place. I don't, because he'd look at me as if I were crazy, but there's a certain serenity, something very therapeutic, about manual labor." As an alternative way to dissipate anxieties, every four or five months Spader drives across the country, alone or with his girlfriend. "I get very sick of the pretentious quality of filmmaking," he remarks. "Making a movie for forty million dollars that's just suposed to make people laugh is ludicrous - you can do that for a lot less. Then again, it's better than spending forty million on killing people."

Seventeen Magazine, November 1987 by Joyce Rudolph (Thank you, Gloria)