“Avengers: Age of Ultron” star James Spader would like to believe that most people don’t automatically think of him as a soulless megalomaniac.
But his own six-year-old son apparently thinks there’s an uncanny resemblance between his dad and the killer robot Ultron in the superhero movie that opens Friday.
“My son said my little mannerisms and things like that are captured by the animators,” the velvety-voiced actor told the News.
But that’s not surprising, “since (director Joss Whedon) and all the animators wanted as much as they could get of everything so, they were recording my face all the time.
“Every second I was on the set, I had a close-up shot on my face,” adds Spader, 55, who is set to return to New York and film new episodes of NBC’s “The Black List,” his hit television series.
“On the motion capture stage they were recording all the time. And then even when I was doing (voice-work) in post-production, they were recording my face and my body,” he says. “All the time.”
He may not technically get a lot of face-time in “Age of Ultron,” but Spader dominates the movie as the titular robotic scourge out to destroy Iron Man and the other Avengers.
The gallery has been updated with scans of the Entertainment Weekly May 1st issue thanks to my friend Claudia.
One overcast spring afternoon, James Spader was lurking in plain sight, standing on the stoop of the Greenwich Village townhouse where he lives, wearing a sport coat, a fedora and a bright purple scarf, smoking a cigarette and talking on a cellphone with the producers of his NBC series, “The Blacklist.”
“Come, come in,” Mr. Spader said with eerie alacrity. He waved his hand, a gesture aimed at this reporter, though you never know with him: He could have been signaling any pedestrian who happened to make eye contact.
Up a few flights of creaky stairs to the home of this mercurial 55-year-old actor, who has played many alluring characters over a four-decade span: the manipulative preppies of “Pretty in Pink” and “Less Than Zero”; the sexual misfits of “White Palace,” “Crash” and “Secretary”; the flat-out kooks of “Lincoln” and “The Office.” Some of them had hidden hearts of gold, and others were unrepentant predators.
Like the man who inhabits it, Mr. Spader’s inner sanctum is not overtly dangerous nor unspeakably bizarre. Scattered around the apartment were coffee-table art books and the Lego toys of his 6-year-old son, Nathanael.
Yet even at a moment of maximum popularity for Mr. Spader, when “The Blacklist” has become a hit and he is about to play the title villain in the superhero epic “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” some essential part of him remains inscrutable and comfortably weird.
It is a weirdness manifest whenever Mr. Spader speaks in perfectly formed sentences, a baritone voice, an automatic pace and an unpredictable volume.
When he discusses the narrative challenges of “The Blacklist,” on which he plays the reformed criminal mastermind Raymond (Red) Reddington, Mr. Spader might as well be describing his general outlook on life.
It takes a special sort of actor to embody a towering robotic villain with the ability to make Tony Stark lose his cool, but if anyone can fit that bill, it’s James Spader. The respected Emmy-winning actor (“The Blacklist,” “Boston Legal”) whose extensive filmography includes projects directed by the likes of Steven Spielberg, David Cronenberg and Steven Soderbergh, among others, joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the iconic comic book antagonist Ultron — a character that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige suggested might have a larger role to play beyond just the new sequel.
Hero Complex caught up with Spader on his last day of filming “Age of Ultron” to learn what it’s like to inhabit such an unusual character and what drew him to the role.
What interested you in playing Ultron? He’s certainly not your conventional villain.
When Joss first called me and gave me an idea of what I could bring to the character, what he was looking for with the character, I just got so intrigued. He wrote a couple of one-off scenes to give me a sense of this character’s voice. I liked the idea that he had this very strange, conflicted, dangerous and volatile character wreaking havoc in the world of the Avengers who has a very eloquent argument for his misbehavior. That’s the thing that’s probably most intriguing, that dichotomy. The fact that he is behaving very, very badly, yet he’s got a very eloquent explanation for it all, or rationale, some of which even if it’s articulated well is quite psychopathic or delusional.
Did you do any comics research?
Joss … made it very clear that this story was using the character within the comics simply as a launchpad and that this version is a broad extrapolation, so no, I didn’t. I worked entirely from script … It’s all script and conversations with Joss and imagination. Unless I’m playing a character that has a historical precedent, I work from script.
May 07, 2015 9:00 PM – “KARAKURT”
Following intel from Red (James Spader), the FBI find themselves one-step behind the most dangerous Russian Assassin, Karakurt, an enemy on U.S. soil. To avoid catastrophe, Liz (Megan Boone) and Ressler meet with Russian Counter-Intelligence who offer insight not only on Karakurt, but also on the identity of Liz’s mother. Cooper (Harry Lennix) finds himself in a compromising position.
The gallery has been updated with five episode stills of James Spader in an all-new The Blacklist episode titled Quon Zhang which airs April 30th on NBC.
Everyone’s after Red – and Liz – on the next all-new episode of The Blacklist, Thursday at 9/8c on NBC.
A few new interviews with James Spader during the Avengers: Age of Ultron press junket have found their way online. You can watch them below.
James Spader will be a guest on Late Night With Seth Meyers on April 27. Make sure to tune in!
LISTINGS FOR NBC’S ‘LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS’ April 20 – April 27
**Monday, April 27: Guests James Spader and Jane Krakowski. Jack Antonoff sits-in with The 8G Band. Show 0196.