Actor. Born Christian Michael Leonard Slater on August 18, 1969, in New York, New York. During the 1980s, Christian Slater emerged as one of film’s leading young actors. He also became somewhat notorious for his life off-screen as well. The son of an actor and a casting director, Slater landed his first acting job as a child, appearing on the soap opera One Life to Live.
In 1980, Slater made his Broadway debut in a revival of The Music Man starring Dick Van Dyke. Several more stage roles soon followed in such musical productions as Copperfield (1981) and Merlin (1983). In 1985, he made his film debut in The Legend of Billy Jean at the age of 15. Slater soon found himself earning strong marks for his supporting role opposite veteran performer Sean Connery in 1986’s historical thriller The Name of the Rose about a series of murders in a monastery.
A short time later, Slater had his first leading part in the action mystery Gleaming the Cube (1989), playing a skateboarding teen who investigates his brother’s death. That same year, his remarkable turn in the dark hit comedy Heathers (1989) with Winona Rider helped make Slater a star. He played a rebellious teen who romances Ryder’s character and undermines their high school’s social hierarchy—dominated by several girls named Heather—through evil means. In this role, Slater drew comparisons to Jack Nicholson from some critics.
Off screen, Slater got in trouble with the law that December. He was arrested for drunk driving after leading the police on a high-speed chase, which ended when he crashed his car into two telephone poles. It was his second arrest for this offense, and Slater was later sentenced to 10 days in jail.
The following year, Slater starred in Pump Up the Volume (1990) as a pirate radio station operator. He earned positive reviews for his performance, and his growing female fan base helped boost the film’s success at the box office. He also appeared in the western Young Guns II (1990) with Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, and Lou Diamond Phillips that same year.
Playing a young version of notorious crime boss Lucky Luciano, Slater starred in Mobsters (1991) with Richard Grieco and Patrick Dempsey, which received mixed reviews. He went on to a supporting role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), starring Kevin Costner as the legendary rebel. The film proved to be another critical and box office dud for Slater.
A longtime Star Trek fan, Slater was delighted to have a small role in 1991’s Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country (1991). His career as a leading man received a boost from his offbeat role in the romantic dramedy Untamed Heart (1993) opposite Marisa Tomei. In the hit film, he played a reclusive, shy busboy who becomes involved with a waitress after rescuing her from a sexual assault. Both Slater and Tomei earned raves for their portrayal of an unusual pair in love.
In another leading role, Slater played a comic bookstore clerk who marries a prostitute (Patricia Arquette) in True Romance (1993). The unlikely couple takes some cocaine from Arquette’s pimp and runs off to Los Angeles where they try to sell the drugs while avoiding her pimp and the authorities. This unusual tale was written by Quentin Tarantino. In an interview with People magazine, Tarantino described Slater as perfect fit for the character he created, calling him a “knock-around, goofy kid, with a real sweet side he keeps hidden.”
Slater had a supporting role in the much-talked drama Interview with a Vampire (1994) based on Anne Rice’s best-selling novel. In the film, he played a journalist who gets to talk with a 200-year-old vampire (played by Tom Cruise). The film was yet another success for Slater, but his off-screen antics threatened to derail his career. In December 1994, he was arrested at a New York airport after trying to board a plane carrying a 9 millimeter handgun.
His next few years got a lukewarm reception. Playing a lawyer, Slater starred in Murder in the First (1995) with Kevin Bacon and Gary Oldman. Reviewer Robert Ebert noted that Slater had talent, but he was too young for the role and “not confident enough” to give the more subtle performance needed in the film. His romantic pairing with Mary Stuart Masterson in Bed of Roses (1996) also failed to impress the critics.
Slater moved on to the action thriller Broken Arrow (1996), which also starred John Travolta. The two played stealth bomber pilots and friends who end up adversaries after Travolta becomes a traitor and steals some weapons. Going behind the camera, Slater made his directorial debut with the film Museum of Love (1996).
It was not long before his personal life began to overshadow his work. In August 1997, Slater was arrested at his apartment after hitting his then-girlfriend and biting the man who tried to stop him. He even got into a scuffle with the police officers at the scene. For several days before the incident, Slater had been on a drug and alcohol binge.
Later sentenced to three months’ in jail, Slater served his time at the La Verne Public Safety Facility. In addition to his jail term, he was also required to go to through a drug rehabilitation program and was put on probation.
Slater soon appeared in several films, including the critically panned Hard Rain (1998) and the bachelor-party-turned-terribly-wrong drama Very Bad Things (1998). Returning to the stage, Slater starred on Broadway in Side Man in 1999. Taking on some smaller roles, he appeared in crime caper 3,000 Miles to Graceland (2001) with Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell, the WWII drama Windtalkers (2002) with Nicolas Cage, and Emilio Estevez’s look at the Robert F. Kennedy assassination Bobby (2006).
After romances with actresses Wynona Rider and Samantha Mathis and model Christy Turlington, Slater finally settled down in 2000. He and television producer Ryan Haddon got married that February. The couple had two children together—a son named Jaden and a daughter named Eliana—before separating in 2005. Their divorce was finalized the following year.
Recently, Slater has taken his career in a new direction. He stars his first primetime series, My Own Worst Enemy, playing a spy with a split personality. “There’s just not a human being on the planet that at one point or another hasn’t been their own worst enemy, and this really takes it to a phenomenal extreme,” Slater told Entertainment Weekly.