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The always underappreciated James Spader



John Cusack may be the poster-boy for "All That was the 80s." But if Cusack is the leading man, then James Spader, who turns 46 today, was his capable understudy. Perhaps even a worthy co-star.

Known largely today for his TV roles in "The Practice" and "Boston Legal," Spader began his career playing the antagonist in 80s teen movies. Was there a more despicable character than Steff in Pretty in Pink? ("The girl is, was, and always will be nada...") A sleazier guy than Rip in Less Than Zero? ("I don't wanna trust you, Julian, I just want my 50K") Heck no. Spader oozed contemptibility straight from his pores.

But tune into Sex, Lies and Videotape, Bad Influence and True Colors. Wowsers! Our boy has layers after all. All told, Spader appeared in a dozen films in the 80s (don't forget his small roles in Wall Street, The New Kids, Mannequin and The Rachel Papers -- featuring the iconic Ione Skye).

Looking for an easy thesis topic? Just prove that at any given time, there's always a John Cusack or James Spader movie on TV. (Remember to save "True Colors" -- in which they both co-star -- as your closing argument. Dare we say a classic flick from the early 90s?)

And so, we give you our Top 5 Spader flicks:
5. Bad Influence: Rob Lowe is the bad guy? Freaky.
4. Sex, Lies and Videotape: "No one sees the videotapes but me." Sure.
3. 2 Days in the Valley: Not just evil. Criminally creepy.
2. Pretty in Pink: One of the best characters of any John Hughes flick.
1. True Colors: Spader as a good guy? It works. Right until he sells out his best friend. ("My father used to say that friendship is like the morning dew. Sometimes it settles on rose petals... sometimes it settles on dogs--t.")

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:16pm]


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