August 14, 2020
ACTORS ARE IDOLS:JAMES SPADERBy AMANDA KRAMER
I’m often shit on for my Hollywood People-Worshipping of white straight men. It’s wildly out of fashion, I guess, especially for a woman like me. You don’t know me, but you’ll have to trust that no one around me wants to hear about how much I adore this popular actor or that rich actor.
Anyway fuck fashion: I LOVE JAMES SPADER.
Thinking about James Spader makes me physically ill. It twists my insides. But one of my favorite things in the world to do is think about James Spader; his motivations, his movements, his vibe, his voice. I take pleasure in every single acting choice he’s ever made. Like when he leans on desks or leans on cars, always this effortless leaning, like he’s too chill to stand but too chic to sit. James Spader knows intrinsically the James Spader character. He’s never missed a Spader beat. God I love thinking about him.
Here is a brag, a swagger, a triumph: I happen to know someone (well) who knows James Spader (well). I love thinking about this. He has James Spader stories, personal ones and professional ones. He’ll tell me the stories sometimes if I ask - I do have to ask, and ask without too much excitement, and then I have to listen, also without too much excitement, or he may not tell me another one again. Have to keep it “cool,” have to keep my energy “low.” But in truth my soul is fed by these stories. In every single one James Spader does exactly what I want him to be doing. He’s acting exactly like James Spader, and there’s a joyousness (a jubilation) in the storyteller as well - here are two people (one, a brilliant decades-long television director/the other, me) in agreement that James Spader is a marvel, an actual treasure. We’re also in agreement that if Hollywood brings back Columbo, Hollywood would be fucking stupid as fuck not to get on their knees and happily hand the role to James Spader.
James Spader is an enduring icon who has given us the gift of his work.
James Spader should have played Patrick Bateman, not Christian Bale, and I stand by that one hundred percent and don’t care about any opposing opinions. I am right. James Spader is a flawless 80s demon, a uniquely dimensional Reaganite, the personification of charmed smarm, a performance artist whose art is a disappearing act. He has wholly disappeared inside the James Spader aesthetic, which is a frightening, libidinal, impish, formal, magnetic, untrustworthy (in)human masterpiece. James Spader doesn’t do anything unless he’s doing it masterfully. James Spader is a legendary weirdo. We are lucky to have moving images of him.
Can you imagine being David E. Kelley? I try to imagine it all of the time. It’s an overwhelming thought experiment and that’s before I let my mind wrap around marrying Michelle Pfeiffer. Imagine you’re David E. Kelley. You want to cast James Spader in a role on a television show called The Practice. Yet every person around you, all of the people who normally tell you you’re a goddamn TV genius, is looking at you like you're a diseased lunatic off the streets. "You can’t cast James Spader! He’s the single most sexually charged nefarious symbol of class, the most bizarre seductor in the business!” And you cast him anyway and you win awards and he wins awards and the Spader Legacy mutates and transforms and deepens and enriches all of America into the 21st century. And that’s what it’s like to be David E. Kelley, a very important piece of the James Spader puzzle.
And it’s a puzzle that is ever-rewarding as its pieces continue to interlock.
Please watch Mannequin. No matter how you feel about Kim Cattrall. You won’t BELIEVE the Spader look, and even if you remember it, you only vaguely remember it, and need to interact with it again. It is undeniably strange and wondrous.
Please watch Jack's Back. In this film James Spader plays a Spader medical student. He also plays a Spader medical student’s Spader criminal twin brother. Here every opportunity for classic Spaderism is mined: shirtlessness on white sheets, compelling male blondness, charismatic night sweats, balletically-timed one liners, levels of sinister secrecy, jocular affirmations of alt-heroics, a complex comfort in the leading man as stranger/danger. Ebert watched. He then compared James Spader to Jack Nicholson, another created persona, another example of exuberant, mythical villainy. I would agree with Ebert there, save for the fact that James Spader is much, much more allegorical and intriguing than Jack Nicholson. As we all know.
Please go to YouTube. Click on the video titled “James Spader,” wherein James Spader sit-leans next to a very tall leafy plant and discusses his film Pretty in Pink. He wears a leather jacket with shoulder pads. He has the presence of a god. He’s hilarious, suave, subtle, unfazed, alluring. If a man can be a pair of dark sunglasses attached to a slightly wrinkled linen blazer, then that man is James Spader. He is entirely meant to be James Spader. He has an impeccable vocabulary.
Some people don’t want to meet their heroes. That’s absolute bullshit. What the hell is wrong with those people, nothing makes sense about that. Nothing. I want to meet James Spader and I want to recount back to him every moment of his career, I want to say his best and most potent lines to his face, I want to make sure he understands fully that his decisions (all of his decisions) have been perfectly executed and brilliantly designed. And more than anything I want to let him know that he is meaningful, representational, and amazing. He amazes me. He is a maze. He is an amazement.
Follow Amanda:Website: afilmbyamandakramer.com
Bio:Kramer's short films BARK, INTERVENE, and SIN ULTRA have played at Fantastic Fest, Monster Fest, Final Frame, Court Metrange Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival and Boston Underground Film Festival's Dispatches from the Underground. Her screenplays have been accepted into IFP’s Emerging Filmmakers program and Frontierés International Co-Production Market in Brussels. Kramer's music videos have premiered on Vogue, LA Record, Flaunt Magazine, and Complex.
Her feature film PARIS WINDOW opened the Women Texas Film Festival and won the jury prize for Creative Vision at the DTLA Film Festival. Her feature film LADYWORLD was selected for the Frontierés Buyers Showcase at the Marche du Film at Cannes. The film had its US Premiere at Fantastic Fest ('18) and its International Premiere at London BFI Film Festival. LADYWORLD also showed at Denver International Film Festival, SF Indie Fest, TIFF Next Wave, Seoul International Women’s Film Festival, and Sydney Film Fest. Distributed by Cleopatra Entertainment, LADYWORLD had its theatrical and
streaming release in August 2019.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
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