Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

James Spader, Up Close Film Career Is Marked by Risk, Diversity Personal Life Is, Well, Not Extraordinary

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

James Spader, Up Close Film Career Is Marked by Risk, Diversity Personal Life Is, Well, Not Extraordinary

Article excerpt

OVER the years, James Spader has played good yuppies and bad yuppies, lawyers and drug dealers, twin brothers and werewolves, sensitive loners and smarmy brats, politicians and galaxy-jaunting scientists.

As an actor, he'll try anything once. And we haven't even mentioned the weird stuff yet.

"I don't scare very easily," Spader says. "I'm pretty selfish about my acting. I do it for my own thing. I don't do it to please someone else or to create an image to leave behind. I'm not a big believer in legacies." Since his debut as Brooke Shields' overprotective brother in 1981's "Endless Love," Spader, 36, has built one of the most unpredictable, diverse bodies of work of any actor of his generation. He's done John Hughes teen comedies and sci-fi epics. He's worked with Oliver Stone and Jack Nicholson. He won the Best Actor prize at Cannes (for 1989's "sex, lies and videotape") and made love to Susan Sarandon in one of the steamiest sex scenes of her career in "White Palace." But the key to Spader's longevity has nothing to do with stardom. Despite his prolific output, Spader is far from a household name: Chances are, you'd walk past him on the street without recognizing him. He continues to get work, lots of it, because no matter how each particular film turns out - and many of them have not turned out well - one thing is consistent: The guy delivers solid, stand-up work. Spader has an enviable, unteachable quality: He's a veritable chameleon, able to blend seamlessly into the mood and vibe of each film. He's equally at home in a ragged, no-budget oddity as he is in a slick, expensive blockbuster. He can play it intimate and cerebral as well as he can play it large and vacuous. Take "2 Days in the Valley," which opened Friday, a sprawling drama that follows the crisscrossing paths of 10 characters in the San Fernando Valley over 48 hours. Spader is the standout of a large ensemble cast, playing a methodical, steelhearted hitman who serves as the catalyst for the film's plot. The movie isn't much, but Spader's arrogant, mannered turn bears watching. His killer takes great joy in inflicting pain and death: The merry glint in his eyes as he pulls the trigger is scarily convincing. The role also is the latest of Spader's gallery of rogues, something else that sets the actor apart: Unlike many of his contemporaries, he doesn't want your love. "I've played a lot of bad guys, so I obviously like doing it," a relaxed-looking Spader says between cigarettes in a suite at Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel. "It's a lot of fun: Anything of extremity is fun. A lot of actors who usually play the good guy in films, when they let themselves go and play a real s-, they go `Wow, this is great!' because it's different. "But it's not mutually exclusive: You don't only want to do that either. …

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