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James Spader and I are not friends.
It’s a shame, really, because I always have that thought in the back of my mind – when I happen to see him – that he’s an interesting person. He seems to get put into roles where he plays the person people want him to be. If I had to put labels on it, I’d call it the emotionally-jaded drifter type. Or spoiled, emotionally shallow business-superior. Or even that slightly naive clean-cut upper-crust corporate exec type person.
There seemed to be no way around it – he just looks like that guy. Which doesn’t mean that he isn’t, but it’s no fun being pinned to a type. If I were an actor, I’d like to pretend to be someone that was far away from what I saw in the mirror, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. So you hang around, and you wait.
Recently, there seems to have been a shift. I saw an ad for the show The Blacklist, and my eyes almost shot out of my head. The prettiness is gone. The hair is gone. Everything that made him the James Spader of old is…gone. By the way, I don’t watch the show. I’ve seen one episode, and it wasn’t my cup of tea. I just wanted to see the new Spader in action, and he is magnificent. Not the way a lion is magnificent, but he gets to use a whole new set of acting muscles that I had assumed had eroded and died from lack of use. He finally gets to play a mysteriously complex criminal mastermind. The kind that authorities would never be able to catch…until he wants to be caught. It’s the acting equivalent to watching a lion run free in the wild. I always suspected that he could do a lot more, and this confirms my suspicions.
This brings me to my next point: aging. I’ve always seen aging as a process of refinement. You cut away the external layers, until you find out who you really are, at your core. I’ve never thought of Spader as a shallow pretty person. I’ve always suspected that there was something underneath that bit. It’s part of what made him interesting, because at some point, he would reemerge. Except he would have shed that old self, and what would appear next was unknown.
Now here he is again, and he can’t be typecast as easily. He no longer looks like Spader, and all that that entailed. You can pretty much put him anywhere. I can’t say for certain, since we are clearly not friends, but it looks now like he’s having a very good time. He has this knowing quality now that wasn’t there before – I’m not sure if anyone else notices this – but just behind his eyes, he seems endlessly amused.
Isn’t that the ideal? To just let the pressures fall away and enjoy yourself. Once you have found your core (this may take awhile) – and I think this new Spader is the core that was there all along – you can finally relax and let it flow.