'Don't make any mistakes. They will never let you forget'
In previous interviews, he has been impressively mature about his time in prison. He has never pretended that he was forced to break rocks or trudge the roads in a chain gang. Still, for a man used to the high life, jail can’t have been all that easy.
“Well, the irony is that my life was actually much crazier prior to my being inside,” he says. “Look, you don’t end up in that situation if your life is moving in a structured manner. There has to be a great deal of chaos for you to end up in that place. It’s almost like it’s a personal release. It gets you some distance from the insanity. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t recommend it. Avoid it if you can. But if you end up in that situation then make the best of it.”
He does seem to be impressively philosophical about the situation. The chaos continued after he left prison. In 2003, Slater’s then wife, Ryan Haddon, was arrested for assaulting him in Las Vegas. They subsequently divorced and he does now appear to have achieved a degree of stability. Slater has, in previous interviews, admitted that staying sober is a daily trial.
“I just want to do my job and be a professional and try not get sucked into the tornado that dragged me down before,” he tells me. Now largely resident in Florida, Slater has appeared in such television series as Breaking In and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Later this year he will turn up in Lars von Trier’s intriguing Nymphomaniac and, opposite Christopher Walken, in Leone Marucci low-budget The Power of Few. This week, we can watch Sly torturing him brutally in Bullet to the Head.
“He couldn’t have been a sweeter guy,” he says of the big man. “One minute I’m being tortured, the next they’re all singing happy birthday to me. It’s a fun business.”
So Slater looks to be back on an even keel. There are, I imagine, a thousand young actors who wonder what they can learn from his experiences. “Ha ha! If I can be any example to anybody, I would say this: don’t make any mistakes. They will never let you forget it. That’s the only advice. Don’t do anything. Ever.” That’s a difficult maxim to follow.
“What can I say? Don’t do anything different. Just don’t do it.”
Bullet to the Head is on general release from tomorrow