James Todd Spader (born February 7, 1960) is an American actor best known for his eccentric roles in movies such as Pretty in Pink; sex, lies, and videotape; Crash; Stargate; and Secretary. His most famous television role is that of the colorful attorney Alan Shore from The Practice and its spin-off Boston Legal, for which he won three Emmy Awards.
Spader was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of teachers Jean and Todd Spader. During his early education, he attended The Pike School (where his mother taught art) and enrolled in the Brooks School (where his father taught) for one year in North Andover, Massachusetts. Spader later transferred to Phillips Academy, but dropped out of school in the eleventh grade to pursue acting at the Michael Chekhov School in New York City. Before becoming a full-time actor, Spader held a variety of jobs including being a yoga instructor, busboy, truck driver, stable boy, and railroad-car loader.
Spader's first major movie role was in 1981 as Brooke Shields' brother in Endless Love, and his first starring role was in Tuff Turf alongside good friend Robert Downey, Jr. But he did not rise to stardom until 1986, when he played Molly Ringwald's foil Steff in Pretty in Pink. He starred opposite Andrew McCarthy, another friend, in Mannequin, and in the film adaptation of Less Than Zero, where he played a drug dealer named Rip. Supporting roles in movies such as Baby Boom and Wall Street followed until his critical breakthrough in 1989. In sex, lies and videotape, he played a sexual voyeur named Graham who complicates the lives of three Baton Rouge residents. For this performance, he received the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival. His roles in the early 1990s included playing a young, affluent widower opposite Susan Sarandon in White Palace, John Cusack's best friend in True Colors, and a poker-playing drifter who collides with Mandy Patinkin in The Music of Chance. In 1994, he starred as Egyptologist Daniel Jackson in the blockbuster hit Stargate. He played car-accident fetishist James Ballard in the controversial Canadian film Crash in 1996 and assassin Lee Woods in 2 Days in the Valley. In 1997, Spader guest starred in an episode of Seinfeld as an angry recovering alcoholic who refuses to apologize to George for making fun of him. In 2000, he played a drug-addicted detective tracking down serial killer Keanu Reeves in The Watcher. In 2001, he starred as Maggie Gyllenhaal's sadomasochistic boss in the critically acclaimed Secretary.
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