While all thoughts were swarming towards Superbowl showdowns and commercials, the lovely and venerable James Spader celebrated his 50th birthday. I'll let that sink in for a moment. 50 years... Half a century. To the younger folks that might not seem like such a shocker, Spader being nothing more than that overly talky, whisky-drinking dude from Boston Legal, who got particularly kinky with Maggie Gyllenhaal not too long ago. But to those whose first forays into cinema included the likes of Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, Less Than Zero, Wall Street, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, it's a pretty big thing to wrap your head around.

What might be most impressive or surprising, more so than Spader's age, is that he is such an absolute and quintessential part of '80s Hollywood for only a very small handful of films. There are many men and women who graced the screen over and over during that decade, but it took exactly one role to make him famous: Steff in Pretty in Pink -- rich, suit-wearing, and holding enough charming sleaze to fill a football stadium. He ruled the high-school-jerk legions, and even if you weren't a fan of John Hughes' Molly Ringwald world, you knew about Spader's sleazy slick nature.


Personally, I wasn't one of those long-term fans of Spader's work, but instead, I came to appreciate it more and more as I watched it evolve. He has always been the go-to guy for subtly sexually creepy fare, but how he's let that performance morph has been impressive -- from Steff and the likes of Rip, to Graham Dalton, James Ballard, Mr. E. Edward Grey, and Alan Shore. One might argue that there's always a little more of the same, but how it's changed ... that's magic.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Spader. In honor of the big occasion, here are a few classic clips. (Some are NSFW.)







And Secretary.