We all know James Spader. We all love James Spader. But we may not all have an all-encompassing idea of just how varied James Spader's career has been since we first met him in the '80s. He's played nerds, jerks, assassins, scientists and even a pimp over the years. He successfully transitioned from movies to TV in series like The Practice, Boston Legal and The Office, and this fall he even gets his own show as a criminal mastermind in NBC's The Blacklist. Here are just some of our favorite Spader roles.


Pretty in Pink

When Ducky tackles Steff in Pretty in Pink, it's supposed to be the triumphant moment for a lowly dork. Instead it just proves that Spader looks good even when taking unexpected beatings. 


Less Than Zero

As sleazy drug-dealing pimp Rip, Spader not only gets to punch Andrew McCarthy in the face but also turns Robert Downey Jr. into a male prostitute. Just like we all wish we could.


There's no getting around it: Spader plays a nerd in Mannequin. An incredibly greasy and evil nerd. And in the end that's all that counts as far as Spader-ness goes.


Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Here we find a far more pained and tortured Spader than we'd gotten used to. He's a little perverse but it's no big deal. Luckily, he sports a mullet that could almost be considered a lion's mane, so there's still some fire in there somewhere.


Bad Influence

Even behind a goofy rabbit mask, Spader's slicked-back hair is still plainly visible, and you just know he means business.


True Colors

It's Spader vs. Cusack in this early '90s political drama which finds Spader doing everything he can to take down a corrupt power-hungry monster he helped create.



Even nerd girls need their dose of Spader. Here's he's a friendly good guy fighting alongside Kurt Russell on a distant planet. Spader doesn't stab anyone in the back, but he does die and get resurrected at one point.


2 Days in the Valley

Now we're talking. Spader plays a double-crossing hit man who gets to sleep with Charlize Theron in this blatant but fun Pulp Fiction rip-off.



As the dominating member of a surprisingly sweet BDSM romance, Spader is all steely control and assured confidence here. But there's a softness to him that makes him totally likable at the same time.



There are a ton of amazing actors vying for attention in Lincoln, but Spader's performance as a hilariously gross and uncouth political instigator who uses foul expletives in the presence of the great Abraham Lincoln steals the show.


The Blacklist

The Blacklist premieres on NBC September 23. Judging by this trailer, it definitely looks like yet another great opportunity for Spader to play the smartest guy in the room. Whether he's working for the bad guys or the good is anyone's guess. Either way, chances are high that he'll be the one who comes out on top.