Spader's Third Lawyer

"This would be a very opportune time for me to get jury duty, I think," James Spader said.

One way or another, Mr. Spader is headed back to the courtroom this month. And jury duty, he indicated, wouldn't be a bad way of steeping himself in the atmosphere appropriate to his next film. As he has twice before -- in "Wall Street" and in the current "True Colors" -- Mr. Spader is taking on the role of a lawyer.

This time, the vehicle is "Storyville," a mystery involving murder, politics and family ties to be directed in New Orleans by its writer, Mark Frost, who created "Twin Peaks" with David Lynch.

In the role of Cray Fowler, Mr. Spader said, "I play a young man whose father committed suicide several years ago, and his uncle has now married his mother. He has worked as a public defender, and his family has been involved in local politics for the last few generations, and he's pursuing a seat in Congress when he finds himself embroiled in a murder plot.

"In any case, the family is intertwined in all of this. That's the specter at the end he really has to face.

"My character has been out of the courtroom for several years and takes on the case for his own self-protection because he's sort of embroiled in this murder as well in a strange way. He first takes the case in hopes he can control what comes out and what doesn't in the course of the trial, and partway through it becomes more of a vindication."

Mr. Spader said he was looking forward to working with Jason Robards, who is cast as an uncle, the family patriarch, and to the twists and turns in the plots and subplots of the film, which is destined for distribution in the United States by 20th Century Fox.

And there was one more thing that attracted him to the role of Cray Fowler, Mr. Spader said: "I sort of like this guy because he's an awful lawyer."

© By Lawrence Van Gelder (Thank you, Susan!)