After a promising run of Broadway and big screen hits, Christian Slater fell from grace as another Hollywood bad boy. We look at a man on a mission to ressurect his career and repuation.
Christian Slater was once the poster-boy pinup on many a teen bedroom wall and his good looks and charm have yet to fade. Notorious as a rebellious 'bad boy' - the type everyone can't help but fall for – the demons of his troubled early career have been overcome to make way for a highly respected and all-round source of ongoing talent.
Christian Michael Leonard Slater was born in New York on 18 August 1969 into an established showbiz family. Mother Mary Jo was a casting executive and father Michael Hawkins was an actor - even his godfather, Michael Zaslow (who died in 1998) was an actor.
Not afraid to encourage their son into the world of fame at an early age, Slater was sent to a special performance school and later attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. He took to acting like a fish to water and it wasn't long before auditions became as common for him as an after-school trip to the local youth club for ‘normal’ kids. As a child actor, Slater was given a sneaky head start thanks to his parents' influence and his mother cast him in his first ever role aged eight in the TV soap 'One Life to Live' (1976). Soon the lure of the stage beckoned and a year later he took to the boards in 'The Music Man' (1980) alongside Dick Van Dyke.
From TV soaps to the stage, the next logical step in Slater's young career would be the big screen and in 1985 he starred in his first film, 'The Legend of Billie Jean'. Success was not blazoned across his CV yet though, especially after taking a role in the Broadway run of ‘Merlin’, which went down in the Hollywood history books as one of the most expensive stage bombs, ever.
Luckily, all was not lost and it was a virtually speech-free part alongside Sean Connery in 'The Name of the Rose' (1986) that finally garnered Slater some critical credit. Real A-list fame didn't arrive for a further four years though and in the meantime he made do with TV roles, low-budget flicks and having to wait in the queue at nightclubs like everyone else - until 'Heathers' in 1989. 'Heathers' was billed as the teen film of the late 80s and it launched the careers of several hotshot actors, such as Winona Ryder and, of course, Slater. Playing the role of an out of control teen psychopath, his manic performance was acclaimed internationally and some critics even made the welcome comparison to the talent of Jack Nicholson.
Casting directors clearly knew they were onto a good thing and soon the offers to play yet more troubled youths came flooding in. It looked as though Slater would fall victim to typecasting when he appeared as another rebellious teen in 'Pump Up The Volume' (1990) and a wild gunman in ‘Young Guns II’ (1990) with Emilio Estevez and Kiefer Sutherland.
They say life mirrors art and sadly this came true for Slater. Using his new-found celebrity status to full advantage, it wasn't long before his personal life became as wayward as his on-screen roles. Regular brushes with the law were part of the norm and in 1989 he was chased by Hollywood police in his car before drunkenly crashing into a telephone pole, trying to escape, and subsequently kicking an officer. He was later charged for drink driving and assault.
Blessed with looks from the handsome department, Slater's media exposure meant that he never had to go home alone and the studio bigwigs were more than aware of this fact. Taking a chance on his questionable after-hours affairs and alcohol dependency, he was cast as the dashing Will Scarlett in the big-film remake of 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' (1991). The film was a huge worldwide success and Slater had officially secured the big time.
He also acknowledged his mother's efforts in helping him achieve success by asking her to cast him in 'Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country' (1991). Being a big Trekkie himself, his uneven eyebrows are the amusing result of shaving them off a child in homage to Spock and them never growing back fully.
Enjoying his mainstream success, he attempted to move away from the typical teen roles seemingly cut out especially for him. He made 1993 the year of romantic leads opposite Marisa Tomei in 'Untamed Heart' and was the centre of affection for Patricia Arquette in 'True Romance'. More tragically, the part as the interviewer in 'Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles' (1994) came about after his friend River Phoenix (who originally had the role) died. Slater subsequently donated his earnings from the film to Phoenix's favourite charities. Both ‘True Romance’ and ‘Interview with the Vampire’ saw Slater share screen time with some of the biggest stars: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Walken among others.
Clearly not one to learn from bad habits, he was arrested in 1994 when he tried to board a commercial plane with a gun in his luggage. In 1997, he was arrested again for attacking his girlfriend Michelle Jonas while he was high on cocaine. To make matters worse he bit the arresting police officer on the stomach and was sentenced to 90 days imprisonment, of which he served 59 days in 1998.
It seemed that Slater was starting to clean up his ways when he met Ryan Haddon (the daughter of a famous former supermodel) in 1998 and the pair married by 2000. The couple had two children, Jaden in 1999 and Eliana in 2001, but their relationship was notoriously rocky. Haddon was arrested in 2003 for assaulting Slater at Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas (he received stitches) and by 2006 they divorced.
Slater's list of female acquaintances is not exactly microscopic. His past conquests include model Christy Turlington and a long line of actresses such as Winona Ryder, Christina Applegate and Patricia Arquette. However, it seems the lure of a well-known Brit may finally have settled him. Jimmy Choo founder, Tamara Mellon caught his eye at a party in London in 2007 and the couple have been seen canoodling in public at every opportunity since, with Slater quoted as saying “I've never been happier, hopefully things will keep moving in the direction they're going.”
Slater has never quite reached the heights of the success of the early 90s, but he hasn't quite sunk into TV soap oblivion or descended to Big Brother appearances just yet. He has continued to invest time and effort into film and television work in the past few years - taking roles in the hugely popular 'West Wing' and 'Alias' series was a wise move in keeping his name fresh in the attention of fans and critics. In 2004, he arrived in London to return to his stage roots as the lead in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest’ (coincidentally played by Jack Nicholson on film, the actor he was so often compared to) and was so well received that he took on another West End run from 2007-January 2008 in 'Swimming with Sharks'. Slater is seen more frequently occupying the social pages in glossy mags with Mellon; perhaps, finally, the once notorious wild child actor may in fact have grown up and found peace in both his personal and professional life.