YOU MAY already know james Spader. You may remember his sneer from any number of trashy films. He was always the bad guy, always memorable: the yuppie scum in "Baby Boom," the corporate lawyer in "Wall Street," the dissolute preppy in "Pretty in Pink," and the drug dealer Rip, a linen-clad Mephistopheles, in "Less than Zero." Taken together, Spader's roles form a chilling inconography of Eighties self-loathing. "I love playing bad guys," says Spader, twenty-nine, who is actually quite a nice guy. "I really do."

Spader, like a young troll under a crowded bridge, has waited and watched while the brat-pack stars of those films--Sheen, McCarthy, Downey, Hall--have flashed and been burned. This fall, however, Spader comes--quite literally--into his own, as the onanistic lead character in "sex, lies, and videotape," the first feature film by Steven Soderbergh. Both the director and star have already been honored at Cannes--mass adulation and development deals to follow. Spader's Graham is a sharing-charing kinda guy, a sex symbol for the Michael Steadman crowd. The movie is about communicating and not communicating, about how people will do anything to avoid touching each other. Then again, says Spader, "it's a film. It's not the answer to life." But with both Graham and the movie finally leaving the stultifying Eighties
behind, the film will strike a chord with those suffering from an excess of postmodern anomie and brat-pack films.

© Esquire 9/1989 v112 p202 (Thank you, Susan!)