Adjusting to the new James Spader

Disclaimer: this post was written in August of 2011. Despite the fact that I profess my enduring love for James Spader here, the attention it’s getting with Mr. Spader in the spotlight is garnering it more attention, and several people out there are missing the fact that a) it’s very tongue-in-cheek and NOT srs bsns and b) focusing only on the negative hair/appearance comments, which were specifically made when he was on The Office…years ago. Please keep your sense of humor handy as you read on. Thanks so much.

As we know, I am a diehard Pretty in Pink fan.

It wasn’t just about John Hughes behind the camera, or Molly Ringwald, or Andrew McCarthy. We simply couldn’t have rooted for Andie and Blane without the “best friend” who is quite the d-bag. We loved to hate the man we know as Steff: rich, entitled, playboy, snotty, pre-determined alcoholic, and utterly bored with life at the tender age of 18.

And there was no one more perfect to portray Steff than James Spader, all hooded eyes, cynical smile — and that hair! While “the bad guy” movie roles have elevated somewhat in films nowadays, Steff’s persona still exists, in film and in reality. He wasn’t just a one-dimensional character that was frozen in time. No. This guy could be plucked out from that age and dropped anywhere – just tweak the hair a little and take away the white, shoulder-padded sport jackets.

Now, I don’t harbor a crush for Mr. Spader presently, but seeing as he will be re-emerging in The Office very soon, it’s hard for me to look at him in the promos right now and not ask, “Dude, what happened?”

It’s been twenty-five years since he almost stole the thunder away from Blane. (The party scene where he’s totally trashed is actually pretty funny.) Granted, twenty-five years is a long time and people’s looks shift from one decade to another. Madonna definitely doesn’t look the same now as she did in the early ’80s, Botox notwithstanding. But she is in her early 50s and looks fabulous – no one will deny that. Jim, if I may call him that, seems to have taken a different approach towards middle-agedom.

To best illustrate my point, let’s look at some photos. Is it self-indulgent? Absolutely.


This is how he looked in Pretty in Pink, with his Farrah Fawcett locks and the gall to wear his open shirt like that to HIGH SCHOOL. But still. He’s the perfectly dressed, smoldering scumbag.


So far, so good.

Here are a couple more as he progresses through his other films, including Wolf, where he did look a little creepy but still looked like James Spader. His looks afford him the types of characters where you don’t know whether you would want to try to be friends with him or just run away screaming.


And now we get to where he’s aging a bit but still looks distinguishable (and kinda like Rainn Wilson):


Let’s get to present day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that he is going to be working with the cast of The Office. I miss Michael Scott on the show but hopefully Jimbo here can bring some darkly intense humor to the show that was missing before. He can do it, I know it.

But what is going on with this whole look?


Again, slightly different:


Not cool. Where are the cheekbones? Where’s the smoldering?! Quite frankly, where did the sex appeal go? This is nothing like when Renee Zellweger put on twenty or thirty pounds for Bridget Jones’s Diary and looked fabulous and healthy but very much when she put the same weight back on for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and looked splotchy, bloated, and a little constipated.

Is this new look for his upcoming role? Is he taking time away from eating a macrobiotic diet? (If so, that’s understandable. Carry on.) What’s going on with the hair? Am I the only one who thinks he needs a makeover show? Or have I succumbed to the pressures of society/media and think that a person shouldn’t look 51 when s/he’s 51? What happened to “50 is the new 40?” So many questions, so few answers.

I’m just saying, that’s all.

***

UPDATE: This post has gotten a tremendous amount of hits in the last year since I published it in 2011. I think it’s because James Spader is a popular actor, as we know, but he’s also moved on to other projects. In the fall season of 2013, he’s on a new show called The Blacklist. It looks like he plays a (sexy) sinister character and I, for one, will be watching. Methinks this is the comeback!

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: I’m totally not in shock that The Blacklist took off immediately. I’ve been a huge fan since the premiere. James Spader’s character is everything I love about what James Spader can bring to it: rakish, charming, debonaire,  mysterious…and he still has a sexy laugh. Even though his hair is gone, this character embodies what I (and many others, I suspect) adore about him and don’t find him wanting in this role. It’s a complete 180 from the one he played in The Office, where I was confused and ultimately disappointed. Welcome back, Jim!

Image: courtesy of USA Today

Image: courtesy of USA Today

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