'Don't make any mistakes. They will never let you forget'
The dangerous looks are the same, but the reputation has changed. Christian Slater talks fame, Stallone, and Gangnam Style
You have to feel a little sorry for Christian Slater. Not that sorry, mind. Now 43, he still retains the impish, slightly dangerous good looks that helped him achieve fame in such well-remembered films as True Romance, Heathers and Pump up the Volume. He has a nice new home in Miami. This week, he gets to square up to Sylvester Stallone in Walter Hills’s hilariously violent (and unambiguously titled) Bullet to the Head. Nice work if you can get it.
He does, however, have to endure endless questions from simple-minded journalists about his troubled years. When he emerged, noting that sly delivery, many pundits compared him to a young Jack Nicholson. But he managed to become an even more prolific bad boy than even that famously dissolute actor. Between 1989 and 2005, he was arrested on at least four occasions. Booze was drunk. A wife went astray. In 1997, he served a spell in prison.
He must know the subject will come up.
“One thing I always tell myself is: this will pass,” he says with apparent good humour. “Things will move on. But it doesn’t necessarily pass with journalists. They will bring it up until your dying f**king day. But it’s part of the deal. They will never let you forget.” You’re not wrong. Let’s talk about something else (for a moment, anyway).
Christian Slater looks to have been marked down for a career in entertainment from before he could speak. Born in New York City, he is the son of Mary Jo Slater, a theatrical agent, and jobbing actor Michael Hawkins. He attended two prestigious stage schools before securing a role in a 1980 production of The Music Man.
“I did grow up in the wings of New York theatres,” he says. “My dad was always doing auditions and he had no choice but to bring me along. Then I got the opportunity to audition and, when I was just nine, I found myself on stage. That was the beginning of this journey. I had no idea what was about to happen. But I had great affection for the business and the people in it.”
That’s good to hear. Looking at that brief biography, one can’t help but suspect he was railroaded towards acting. Did he never long to become a doctor or an astronaut or a train driver?
“Well, the thing about this business is that if you get any desire to do anything else you can always act that role. I am always getting the opportunity to be a lawyer or a doctor or a bad guy. For me, that’s more fulfilling than doing the same thing all my life.” He goes on to explain that, for all his affection for the business, he is reluctant to propel his own children towards acting. At the urging of his mother, he did once bring his son to an audition for a Tom Hanks film. But the unfortunate tyke wasn’t interested.