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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.

Early life

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.

Career

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 turns the lives of three Baton Rouge residents upside down. 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.

From 2004 to 2008, Spader starred as the lead character Alan Shore in the TV series Boston Legal, in which he reprised his role from the TV series The Practice. Spader won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Award for his portrayal of Alan Shore in 2004 on The Practice and won it again in 2005 and 2007 for Boston Legal. Spader has become one of the few actors to win consecutive Emmy Awards for playing the same character on two different series (another being co-star William Shatner as Denny Crane). Spader also won the Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical for Boston Legal in 2006.

In October 2006, Spader narrated China Revealed, the first episode of Discovery Channel's documentary series Discovery Atlas. Boston Legal cast mate Candice Bergen would follow him in narrating France Revealed. He has also done the voice-over in several television commercials for Acura.

His latest acting role is in Race, a play written and directed by David Mamet, in which he stars alongside Richard Thomas, David Alan Grier and Kerry Washington. It opened on December 6, 2009 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway.

Personal life

Spader met his first wife, Victoria Kheel, a decorator, while working in a yoga studio, after he moved to New York in the 1980s. They married in 1987 and have two sons, Elijah and Sebastian. Spader filed for divorce from Kheel in 2004 and currently has plans to marry his girlfriend (and his former co-star), Leslie Stefanson, with whom he had a child in August 2008.

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