The 5 Best James Spader Roles
James Spader has had an incredible career. His sneering veneer has been featured in a number of film and TV roles, all of which have been made infinitely better because of his involvement. Whether he was playing a good guy, a bad guy or a bad good guy, James Spader has made a career out of stealing the show. He’s been a wolf and a lawyer, a cop and a snob, a robber and a robot. Spader has, seemingly, done it all. Whenever he is portrayed as a good guy, however, something just feels off. James Spader was born to be bad. Whether audiences are rooting for the man or are firmly against him, there can be no denying that when James Spader is on the screen, people take notice.
5) Steff – Pretty in Pink (1986)
For years, James Spader was known as “the guy that was mean to Molly Ringwald.” In Pretty in Pink, Spader played a guy named Steff who projected all of his bad feelings on his supposed ‘best friend,’ played by Andrew McCarthy. Unfortunately, Molly Ringwald’s feelings were collateral damage as Steff did everything a prototypical 80’s bully could do to a person.
4) Ultron – Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Ultron was built to create a world in which The Avengers would no longer be needed. Ironically, Ultron’s creation only proved how much the world does need The Avengers. Ultron was created with the best of intentions by Stark, but the evil robot soon took destiny into his own hands. His destiny, he believed, was to destroy everything Tony Stark held dear, including his teammates. Wanna know how good of an actor James Spader is? He made a CGI robot seem scary.
3) Stewart Swinton – Wolf (1994)
In the 1994 film Wolf, Jack Nicholson starred as Will Randall, a publishing executive who gets bitten by a werewolf and begins to turn into one himself. Somehow, he’s the good guy in all of this though. The villain of the film is Stewart Swinton, played by Spader. Stewart is a mid-level executive, looking to usurp Randall and take his job. And also he sleeps with Will’s wife. So, he’s the true villain of this piece. This role is typical Spader. Stewart is conniving, manipulative and quite smarmy.
2) Alan Shore – The Practice (2003-2004), Boston Legal (2004-2008)
If James Spader wasn’t an actor, he would almost certainly be a lawyer. He’s just charming/smarmy enough to be a perfect defense attorney. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what he was in both The Practice, and its spinoff, Boston Legal. Spader played a lawyer named Alan Shore, a pompous, arrogant, but extremely talented lawyer who was taken under the wing of Sir William Shatner. In both of those shows, Shore is portrayed as a genuinely good guy who makes a lot of not-so-good decisions. He’s a character that audiences truly love to hate to love, and all of that is due to Spader’s performance.
1) Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington – The Blacklist (2014-Present)
Speaking of genuinely good guys who have to do bad things or, more accurately, genuinely bad guys who have to do good things…Red Reddington, the character James Spader has been playing for the past 5 years. Red was one of the most wanted men in America. Luckily, there is a list of people the FBI wants more – a list that Red has compiled himself. He just has one condition: he only deals with Elizabeth Keen, an FBI profiler with whom Red knows almost everything about…even though she’s never met him. The Blacklist is a fairly standard NBC Drama Show, but it’s Spade’s performance as Red Reddington that really separates this show from every other almost identical show.
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