Studies acting at The Beverly Hills Playhouse with Milton Katselas. Was engaged to Kirstie Alley while her divorce from Parker Stevenson was pending. However, they did not marry. A TV leading man of the too-handsome variety, James Wilder has been successfully able to play villainous slimebuckets as well as the expected suave professionals and over-ambitious tools of the establishment. The brown-haired, pouty-lipped actor first won attention playing the ambitious Christopher Searls, who dreamed of one day becoming the District Attorney, in the acclaimed but short-lived legal drama "Equal Justice" (ABC, 1990). Wilder later went on to earn bigger ratings as Reed, the drug-dealing seducer of Jo Reynolds (Daphne Zuniga) on "Melrose Place" (Fox) in the spring of 1994.
Determined to be a performer from youth, Wilder began performing comedy in clubs in the USA and Europe--including the famed Lido of Paris--when he was still a teenager. By age 17, he was juggling for dollars on the streets of San Francisco and Oakland, CA. He later moved to New York, where he studied at the Actors Studio, before landing a gig in the national company of "Sugar Babies" with Mickey Rooney. Settling in L.A., Wilder earned his first break in the 1987 TV-movie "Cracked Up" (ABC), in which he played the drug-addicted son of a minister (Ed Asner). His role on "Equal Justice" gave Wilder such heat that he was featured as a sure-bet future star in the 1991 documentary "Naked Hollywood" (seen on the Arts & Entertainment Network). That may have been hyperbole as Wilder was set back in 1993 when he starred in the short-lived and critically-dismissed series remake of "Route 66" (NBC). Although his turn on "Melrose Place" seemed to open new doors for him. There was a renewed sputter of interest with "Models, Inc." (Fox, 1994-1995), in which Wilder played the owner of a club where the sexy models went to party. That same year, he played Jeff Gilloly, co-conspirator to Tonya Harding in the attack on her skating rival, in "Tonya and Nancy: The Inside Story" (NBC). Again, Wilder played high-profile sleaze on TV and it demonstrated his range. He went the criminal cad route again playing the abusive younger husband of an heiress in "Our Mother`s Murder" (USA Network, 1997). Wilder`s feature film career has been slower in starting. He broke into the medium with "Zombie High" (1987) and had perhaps his best role as the blood thirsty convict-on-the-lam (and brother of terminally angelic Henry Thomas) in the Canadian-made "Murder One" (1988). He also co-starred with Fairuza Balk in "Tollbooth" (1994). But that breakthrough film role has still eluded Wilder.