A succession of moderately successful, accessible and friendly movies in the eighties established him as a talent on the rise, until 1989 Sex, Lies, and Videotape — a movie where he plays the main antagonist, a sexually deviant and obsessed psychopath — definitely increased his profile, casting Spader to stardom, and earning him a Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival. From then on, James Spader's career flourished, and he eventually became a household name. Since his first movie, 1978 Team-Mates, he has made more than forty films, so far.
One of the most remarkable movies of his career was certainly 2000 The Watcher, where Spader plays the main role, opposite Keanu Reeves. The plot revolves around FBI agent Joel Campbell, played by Spader, who is constantly tormented and disturbed by mysterious and somber serial killer David Allen Griffin, portrayed by Reeves. Marisa Tomei was also part of the cast, playing a character named Polly Beilman. One of the most sinister movies in James Spader's filmography, The Watcher follows a tense, reluctant and anxious law enforcement agent, that probably has to endure the most terrible ordeal of his life, having to decipher the clues left by the sadistic and cruel serial murderer, deliberately handed over to Campbell to see if he can — within a matter of hours —, find out where the killer's next victim is; so Campbell is always in a rush againt the clock, in an effort to rescue the person being held captive, and prevent the hostage from being murdered by Griffin.
Despite the success in the film industry, in the beginning of the 21st century, Spader became an iconic television presence, in the wake of his portrayal of the remarkable Alan Shore, in the shows The Practice and Boston Legal. More recently, Spader has been playing criminal underground informant Raymond Reddington, in The Blacklist, a character that consolidated his reputation and his presence as a reference and a familiar face to television audiences. With an amoral, somewhat rude, and a very pragmatic attitude, Alan Shore captivated audiences with his frivolous, sometimes despondent and indifferent, but always combative personality, that fought challenges and difficulties with a restless, but rational temper, eventually becoming a beloved and deeply estimated character in primetime television.
For six years now — since 2013 —, Spader has been playing Raymond Reddington, in The Blacklist. In the series, his character is a deranged and immoral criminal, that turns himself over to the FBI, willing to make an exchange. He will reveal to the agents information about several prominent and conspicuous criminals, if they grant him legal immunity. So they make a deal, and Reddington partners with young FBI rookie Elizabeth Keen (played by Megan Boone), to start the monitoring of the illicit activities of all the offenders about whom Reddington keeps a secret. The show is currently on its sixth season, with the seventh set to premiere in October, and it has been a popular hit, with audiences and critics alike praising its intricate plot and cohesiveness, as well as James Spader's performance.
James Spader is a veteran actor, that now — at fifty-nine years old — is on the crest of the wave. Having earned recognition in the film and television industries, and most importantly, a place in the hearts of audiences, the actor, in every work, always reveals new professional capabilities, and a new side of his personality, that the fans didn't knew. Always willing to accept a challenge, to showcase how far his acting abilities can go, James Spader will continue to be an actor on the rise. And luckily, we will keep seeing him, for many more years to come.