"Talent Playing Doctor"

James Spader's onscreen proclivities for money, drugs, and fast women are a necessary part of his job. But in real life he's a family man, and his
latest roles, as a doctor in Sideny Lumet's "Critical Care" (opening Friday) got him thinking, as a family man must, about the state of world health care. "I had some dealings," Spader says mysteriously, "in another country that had universal health care-and it was abysmal. It was archaic. I had a sick child at the time, and I'm telling you, it was like taking the child to prison." Not that he thinks things are working perfectly in this country, which is one reason he found the film-darkly comic look at what ails the U.S. system-appealing. "We are in a crisis," he believes. "There are some very hard questions that need to be answered in terms of the sick going untreated, or becoming destitute because of the cost of an illness." As a lusty intensive-care doctor who gets caught up in a family's squabble over pulling Daddy's plug, Spader comes face-to-face with the realities of modern medicine, menacing hospital lawyers, and a patient who's only "technically" alive. The star of "Crash" (David Cronenberg's film about folks who use car accidents to heighten their sexual ardor), Spader hopes that this movie, too, will upset its audience: "That's what films can-and should-do." Not that he wants to sound too serious. "Critical Care," after all is a comedy (featuring a hoofed Wally Shawn as the devil's frontman and Albert Brooks as a grumbly alcoholic doctor.) "I really had a lot of fun on this film," says Spader, who's fully insured by the Screen Actors Guild. "Everybody just fractured me."

By Patricia Falvo "New York Magazine" 11/3/1997 page 100 (Thank you, Susan)