James Spader was born this day in 1960. Despite the influence of his academic parents, the Boston-born actor had left school by the age of 17, only to land roles in mundane television movies and serial duds. Feature films came shortly after though. Perhaps most memorably, he played a yuppie heartthrob in the 80s cult-hit Pretty in Pink before moving on to Diane Keaton’s conniving successor in Baby Boom and a drug pusher in Less Than Zero (1987). But it wasn’t until 1989 that Spader found his niche with sex, lies, and videotape. The Steven Soderbergh-directed hit helped to make Sundance the goliath festival it is today and earned its leading man the Best Actor trophy at Cannes that same year. No doubt it also launched his career as the sexually piquant man you want to hate, but can’t help liking—just a little bit.

Film Star Factoid: Unfortunately for audiences, James Spader dropped off the map for a while, only seen in films such as 1996’s 2 Days in the Valley and Walter Hill’s Supernova. But it was Sundance that once again made him a star, when the film Secretary became a festival hit in 2002. His return to prominence led to his current Emmy-winning role on the television drama “Boston Legal.”