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James Spader Seriously Risked His Career In The ’90s With What He Used To Keep In His Car

We love James Spader. Nobody does offbeat quite like him. The charismatic actor made a career out of playing eccentric characters, and according to his friends, he’s just as eccentric off screen. Just how eccentric? In what sounds like a plot line from one of his many TV shows, Spader apparently carried medieval weapons in the trunk of his car during the ’80s.

From Brat Pack to The Blacklist: Looking Back at Spader’s Career

Before Red Reddington, Robert California, and the beguiling Alan Shore, Spader was a high school dropout looking to make it as an actor on the big screen. His first major role Endless Love, which was also Tom Cruise’s feature film debut, hit the screens in 1981. Five years later, the then 25-year-old Spader cemented his place as a teen idol with an appearance in John’s Hughes classic Pretty in Pink. By the end of the decade, the Brat Pack-adjacent star was looking for more serious roles. 

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In 1989, he took on a pivotal role in Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotapes. His breakthrough performance won him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival—an award Spader wasn’t on hand to receive after he reportedly got bored and left the festival early. It was typical Spader behavior, according to a 1990 Playboy magazine profile. The article later revealed which weapons Spader kept in in his trunk. 

Spader’s Not-So-Secret Weapons

Today, Spader stars on the The Blacklist, but his antics on the set of a 1985 horror flick could have landed him on a different type of blacklist. As Eric Stoltz tells it, it all went down while filming The New Kids in Florida. “Jimmy was at his wildest,” the actor told Playboy. “We’d take road trips to the Keys or up the coast, and he’d insist on having weapons in the trunk. He’d drive like a maniac-fast, with the music blaring—and I was always living in fear that we’d be pulled over and some officer would find his crossbow, his lance, his 12-inch knife, his whip.”

Stolz goes on to tell a story so improbable it could have occurred in one of Spader’s TV shows. “One morning, Jimmy was running around with a crossbow, trying to get the arrows to stick to a palm tree in the motel courtyard,” Stoltz says. “He was wearing a fringed leather jacket and underwear, with a cigarette and shades. The leading actress had brought her mother with her, and when the mother walked out of her room to get the morning paper, she saw Jimmy and almost had a heart attack.”

“Jimmy’s a very peaceful man,” Stolz told the magazine. “He’s the sweetest, nicest man in the world. He’s just a tad eccentric.” Fortunately, Spader’s managed to stay on our screens ever since—hopefully, his trunk contents are just a little less intense now.

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