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James Spader is known as one of the most unique and interesting actors in Hollywood. The Blacklist actor maintains a notoriously private personal life while keeping fans engaged week after week. Spader revealed in past interviews that he does not come from an entertainment family and that acting sort of fell into his lap. There’s one thing he and his father have in common — and it’s not necessarily the best thing.

James Spader had a modest upbringing long before ‘The Blacklist’

The Blacklist
James Spader as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington | Zach Dilgard/NBC

As an elusive criminal plugged into the underground network on The Blacklist, James Spader’s character, Raymond “Red” Reddington, does not want for much.

The character is plugged into every facet of illegal happenings giving him ample access to money. Spader’s childhood was vastly different than that of Red’s in more ways than one. Obviously, Spader is not an FBI Most Wanted fugitive; nor is he an informant for any government agency (as far as we know).

And, the actor may be well off now but growing up, he lived in a modest fashion.

“There wasn’t a great deal of extraneous income in our household. I had two older sisters. My parents were teachers, and I grew up on a boarding-school campus, Brooks School in Andover, where my father taught English. My mother taught art at another school,” Spader told Playboy.

“The TVs we had were black-and-white hand-me-downs, and the three or four stations came in only if you were holding one of the antennae yourself, thereby turning yourself into an antenna.”

Spader added that he didn’t see movies until he joined a film club at Brooks. In other interviews, The Blacklist star revealed that the lack of money throughout his childhood didn’t motivate him much to do better.

“I’ve had a lazy career, sometimes one film a year, sometimes none. I’m walking around in the street and doing this other thing, living, that I’m much more interested in. I just do some acting on the side,” he said via IMDb.

The similarities between Spader and his father

Despite Spader’s well-to-do career now, he and his father had one notable thing in common, according to Spader.

“He was terrible — and I’m the same — in that my mother could not let him have a dollar in his pocket. Down to the last dime, it would be gone. He’d give it away, buy everyone ice cream, or whatever it was. He’d spend every cent he ever had. For instance, he loved fishing, but he had more fishing rods than he ever needed, even if he used every one of them,” he said in the same Playboy interview.

Spader explained that aside from sharing his father’s spending habits, he also inherited another all-encompassing trait.

“He also clearly had certain obsessive-compulsive issues. He was always on task and had to finish one task before he could get to the next. I have a lot of similarities with him,” he said.

The “obsessive-compulsive issues” Spader mentioned have been brought up in other interviews. During a 2014 Rolling Stone profile in which the actor was labeled “the strangest man on TV,” Spader lamented on his intricacies.

“I’m obsessive-compulsive. I have very, very strong obsessive-compulsive issues. I’m very particular,” he said, explaining some of his ritualistic behaviors.

“I rely on a certain routine. It’s very hard for me, you know? It makes you very addictive in behavior because routine and ritual become entrenched. But in work, it manifests in obsessive attention to detail, and fixation.,” he said. “It serves my work very well: Things don’t slip by. But I’m not very easygoing.”

What does Spader spend his money on?


Why James Spader Has Been Deemed ‘Difficult’ to Work With

By Spader’s own account, some of these behaviors and compulsive spending amount in a lot of two things.

“I buy records, and I have a lot of hats. But I wear a hat every day, so they all get used,” he said. They all serve different purposes. I have tall hats for colder weather; straw for summer. I guess when you run out of room, it’s time to stop buying records. At least I haven’t run out of room yet. They’re stacked everywhere.”

As for the records, Spader enjoys the process.

“I like to get the record out and I like the way a turntable looks. I like to watch it work as the record plays and to read the liner notes when I listen to a record,” he said.

Considering Raymond Reddington also has an affinity for hats and records, maybe there’s more to Spader than fans of The Blacklist realize.