The four faces of James Spader | EW.com

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The four faces of James Spader

A look at the actor's typical roles in movies such as ''Tuff Turf,'' ''Baby Boom,'' and ''Sex, Lies, and Videotape''

James Spader, God bless him, keeps getting better and kinkier. The video releases of Crash and Keys to Tulsa only confirm this ’80s survivor’s narrow but mesmerizing gift for portraying yuppie pond scum (and those are his good guys). So what if his films usually make only brief pitstops in theaters before hitting tape? A lot of them are great little video movies. Herewith, his notable work, organized by smarmy-Spader subtype.

CALLOW PREPPY HEROES

TUFF TURF (1985) A besieged new kid in town, befriended by Robert Downey Jr.

WHITE PALACE (1990) Making whoopee with waitress Susan Sarandon on a table — a glimpse of kink to come.

BAD INFLUENCE (1990) He’s a nice guy; Rob Lowe is a snake. They shoulda switched roles.

TRUE COLORS (1991) He’s a nice guy; John Cusack is a snake. They shoulda switched roles.

DREAM LOVER (1994) He’s a loving husband; Madchen Amick is a psycho wife. They shoulda…

BACKSTABBING BUSINESSMEN

BABY BOOM (1987) Shivving it to new mom Diane Keaton.

MANNEQUIN (1987) Taking pratfalls as Andrew McCarthy’s nemesis.

WOLF (1994) Eventual dog food for Jack Nicholson’s lycanthrope.

SYMPATHETIC DEVIANTS

SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE (1989) Spader comes into his own as an onanistic, voyeuristic hero.

STORYVILLE (1992) An enjoyable mess about an amoral rich kid in over his head.

THE MUSIC OF CHANCE (1993) His biggest stretch — a garrulous low-rent gambler — pays off.

CRASH (1997) Zombified but compelling in David Cronenberg’s slick catalog of fetishism.

TRULY EVIL SICKOS

LESS THAN ZERO (1987) Awful movie, but Spader’s downright scary as drug-dealer Rip.

2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY (1996) His merrily twisted hitman stands out in the milling cast.

KEYS TO TULSA (1997) Sporting an Elvis-like pompadour and exuding scorpion calm as a sleazy blackmailer.