Article: What The World Needs Now Is More Christian Slater

Once a big name star, Christian Slater's stardom has slowly faded. Maybe it's time for a rebound.

"Oh my god!!! What happened?
Only 4 episodes and cancelled.
I wanna go back to Heathers!"

Christian Slater was only 15 when he made his big screen debut in the 1985 cult classic, The Legend of Billie Jean. It was a cool edgy performance for a young actor and one that earned him an instant following. But it was his role as JD in the dark comedy Heathers that solidified him as an actor. He received multiple praises for his performance and many began comparing him to a young Jack Nicholson. Subsequently, his fan base skyrocketed afterwards. Here was an actor with a gritty smoothness, and an on-screen coolness that earned him equal appeal between both sexes. Girls swooned over his good looks and dangerous bad boy image, and guys related to the sophisticated rebels he portrayed. In many ways, he was a modern day James Dean.

As the grungy nineties rolled around, Slater's popularity only grew. Bigger roles allowed his skills an an actor to shine, with memorable roles in films such as Pump Up The Volume, True Romance, and the quirky cult favorite Young Guns II. His new found fame scored him two hosting gigs on Saturday Night Live (1991/1993). Life was good for Christian Slater and his fans.

Many actors can get trapped in the typecast roles that makes them famous. It's the one-dimensional broken record downfall that can lead an audience to boredom. Slater hurdled this fate by expanding his horizons. In 1993 he broke his rebellion mold by staring in the romantic comedy Untamed Heart opposite Marisa Tomei. Already an established heartthrob, his performance was warmly received by his female fans and helped win the coveted "Most Desired Male" at the MTV Movie Awards. And as if making out with Marisa Tomei on set wasn't reward enough, the two won also won the award for "Best Kiss.” The good vibes took a turn later that year after the tragic death of his friend River Phoenix. Slater took over the late actor’s role in Interview With A Vampire. Afterwards he donated his paycheck from the film to Phoenix's favorite charities.

"Did you just say
Gleaming The Cube remake?
Dude. I'm in to play the Asian dad.
Can you make it happen?"

In 1994 Slater was arrested at JFK airport for trying to board a commercial airline with a gun packed away in his luggage. It wasn't his first brush with the law, having earned the "Hollywood common" DUI shortly after the release of Heathers. Being the pre 9/11 era, the offense only earned him a slap on the wrist - a three day community service gig working with homeless children. It was a stupid move. One that would start a series of run-ins with the law. His next film following the arrest was the John Woo action thriller Broken Arrow with John "Ain't It Cool" Travolta. Once again it was new territory for Slater. While competent in the role, it was strange seeing Slater as an action star. He just didn’t seem to fit the mold. The movie was a success financially, thanks largely to Travolta who was still riding his Pulp Fiction comeback success. In 2007 Slater found himself in trouble with the law again after assaulting his girlfriend and a police officer after a drug and alcohol bender. Slater was sentenced to three months in jail, which he served after spending 100 days in rehab. It was an embarrassing moment in the actors life that that had detrimental consequences.

The years following Slater would experience fewer hits and more misses; and most of his performances would only receive lukewarm reception at the box office. The roles suited to his talents became scarce and he found work where he could. Sadly, The actor who was once compared to Jack Nicholson even took a role in the low budget film Hollow Man 2. The fact that it was a direct to video release and that his character was invisible for most the film was probably a blessing. The film has a dreadful 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Recently Slater has crossed over to television, but he has yet to find the success his former co-stars Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon have found. Slater received praise for his performance in the television series My Own Worst Enemy, but the show was cancelled after airing just four episodes. The series Mindgames suffered the same blow, lasting only a month before it was canceled due to low rating. Just this year, Slater had a supporting role in the divisive Lars Von Trier film, Nymphomaniac.

"Ok. Give me a role in
a Tarantino movie and
I promise NOT to blow
your head off."
Slater continues to stay busy between television, movies, and voice overs. He's a far cry from his early rebellious heydays, but he continues to find work, and is willing to take roles. Even at the height of his fame Slater took a bit part in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. His scene was less than 30 seconds, but being a lifelong Trekkie, Slater was thrilled to be part of the film.

With years of sobriety under his belt, it's not hard to imagine a comeback. Popularity comes and goes in Hollywood, but acting was never the issue for Slater. Perhaps fame came too quickly, and maybe some of his early on screen roles bled over into his personal life. The run-ins with the law certainly took their toll, even in an era before the nightly TMZ celebrity roasts. Today’s responsible Christian Slater has a firm grasp on life. A quick check of his recent filmography reveals a consistent line of work. He's seems more busy now than ever. Its a shame most of it doesn’t get the publicity or airtime it deserves. Through his consistent hard work - personally and professionally - a comeback seems almost inevitable. Perhaps he should start eating out more. I'd recommend Tarantino's favorite restaurant.

-Lee Lind