“Race,” the latest David Mamet play to open on Broadway, stars the effortlessly brazen James Spader. Spader, of course, has fashioned an entire career playing slick, sexy scoundrels whose looks allow them to get away with behavior a lesser nebbish like Woody Allen would get locked up for. For nearly three decades(!), and in a feat incomparable to any other actor of his generation, Spader has repeatedly and subversively performed his own form of jujitsu on Hollywood typecasting. Consistently he's cashed in on his leading man, pretty boy looks while simultaneously embodying character actor assholes—in the process exposing the very essence of sex appeal. In contrast, a star like Tom Cruise is a good guy at heart, forever excusing his high wattage looks in an "Aw shucks, don't hate me because I'm beautiful" appeal. Spader is Cruise's polar opposite, both refusing to apologize for the genes life dealt him and not caring one iota whether we like him or not. Frankly, my dear, he doesn't give a damn. Spader's sexiness—as opposed to mere physical attributes—lies in his flaunting of genuine self-confidence through his characters.
To read the rest visit my “Sex Beat” column at Carnal Nation.