James Spader Says He Booked 'The Office' Just to Finance 'Lincoln' Role


James Spader at TCA


Boy is it refreshing when a television star is actually honest in an interview. 

At the Television Critics Association conference yesterday, James Spader (star of the upcoming NBC series 'The Blacklist') opened up about his decision to take a recurring role on the eighth season of 'The Office' as fan-favorite character Robert California. 

Spader was asked by an 'Office'-loving audience how much he would cherish his time as Robert California on the comedy series, but Spader's frank response caught many by surprise. The gig on 'The Office' was something that Spader agreed to in order to pay the bills, so that he could work on the critically-acclaimed Daniel Day Lewis film 'Lincoln' for little money. 

"I had a ball doing that one episode [of 'The Office'] and two things happened," Spader explained. "I was offered 'Lincoln,' a film everyone was doing for very little money, and yet the commitment was going to be eight months in advance. And I had just finished doing a play in New York and need to make some money." Spader continued saying that he was seeking a job "that actually paid [his] bills." So after they aired the seventh season finale of 'The Office,' and the response to Spader's one-off appearance was so great, the producers of the show reached out to the three-time Emmy Award winner about returning as California. "[The producers] called and said ‘we’d love to have you back in any capacity you’re willing.'" He explained how he agreed to return, provided he would be released in the Autumn so he could film 'Lincoln,' a decision which Spader believes guided the character on 'The Office' to a profound degree. "And that," referring to his imminent departure, "probably more than anything, dictated the trajectory of the character on the show…So in a sense I never felt like I was more than a visitor there. I was fine with that."

Spader became a globally-respected talent back in 1989, when he won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his work in 'Sex, Lies and Videotape.' He took television by storm as Alan Shore in the David E. Kelley legal shows 'The Practice' and 'Boston Legal,' where he took home award hardware nearly every season. Now starring in 'The Blacklist,' NBC has every reason to believe that Spader will have another hit on his hands. 'The Blacklist' is about a serial killer and organized criminal named Red (Spader) who turns himself in to the FBI inexplicably, offering to work with the agency and reveal several dangerous terror plots, provided he is allowed to work with the FBI agent of his choosing. That agent is Elizabeth Keen, who just began her FBI career that very morning. 

So what do you think? Is it nice to hear an actor tell the truth about their business? Or does this admission sully your enjoyment of Robert California? 

- James Spader
- The Blacklist
- Boston Legal
- The Practice
- The Office (US)

Written by: bad_subject
Jul 28th, 2013, 9:05 am

Images courtesy of NBC


Level 1 (53%)
Since: 18/Apr/08
Message Posted On Aug 1st, 2013, 4:33 am

Definately refreshing to hear, and I have much love for him since Boston Legal (in particular - he does everything well... but my god, Alan is one of the greatest characters ever).


Never heard of Blacklist before, but that basis for a series + Spader is insta-gold in my book. I'll be watching it for sure.


Level 1 (98%)
Since: 01/Mar/12
Message Posted On Jul 29th, 2013, 11:53 am

Respect. An actor who sees many of us TV viewers are actually intelligent and can see through the 'bullshit' promo interviews. Give us some real information.



Level 16 (7%)
Points: 11645
Since: 12/Oct/12
Message Posted On Jul 28th, 2013, 4:14 pm

You have to respect someone willing to talk about the business within the business.


Level 1 (54%)
Points: 9.9
Mood: depressed
Since: 15/May/13
Message Posted On Jul 28th, 2013, 3:53 pm

Acting, after everything is said and done, is just a job. Many actors, even the really famous ones, work sometimes just to pay the bills... Many actor will take any thing they can get just to make the S.A.G. required commitments for medical insurance and fees. Some take a roles to get enough to keep their unemployment going, so they can look for a good role or a regular role on a series... Afterall, it's called Show BUSINESS, isn't it?


Message Posted On Jul 28th, 2013, 10:50 am
He was great on Boston Legal. The Blacklist sounds interesting.
Big Dick Dudley

Message Posted On Jul 28th, 2013, 9:53 am
Really refreshing to hear brutal honestly coming from a guy who works in fantasy land where all actors kiss each others ass in the media. I'd like to have a beer or two with Spader, maybe have a few laughs, see what develops...
Related news

Fan Made Community Mashup with Parks & Rec

Fans of NBC's Thursday night line-up are in for a real treat.  A video is..

Parks And Recreation Sees Return of Louis C.K

NBC's "Parks and Recreation" is a darling of the Thursday primetime comedy..

The Office Gets Own High-Quality Paper Brand

Is this a case of commercial tie-ins gone too far? The fictional paper..