Christian Slater: ‘Breaking In’ To Our Hearts and Living Rooms
In his new Fox comedy Breaking In, the actor shows his comedic side while still delivering the dark, devious character traits audiences love seeing him portray. During a press call, Celebuzz had the chance to speak with the actor about his new gig, his bad boy image — and stealing Captin Kirk’s command chair.
Breaking In shows your great comic timing. How much is written and how much is improv?
There’s definitely been a little bit of improv going on, certainly. When I first got the script, the character of Oz hadn’t been really clearly identified … we just started talking and came up with ideas and I figured, you know what? I’ve got nothing to lose here, so why don’t I just throw out some options and some things that I would like to particularly do in a show and see what these guys think. They ended up popping everything I kind of suggested into the script and I read it and I was like, “Oh boy, okay, well this is pretty exciting. If we can actually pull off getting the Captain Kirk chair in the show that would be wondrous!”
We do, in fact, see the famous Captain Kirk chair. Was that your idea since you’re a fan?
Yes, well, a buddy of mine had gotten me that chair for a birthday present about a year ago so it was really just sitting in my house and I really liked it and I just thought this chair, I think, would represent, in a way, who this Oz character is. He is definitely the captain of this particular ship. It does have a throne-like quality and it also has a little bit of a throwback-type quality as well. I’m a fairly eccentric character myself and the fact that these guys were so open to hiring people and including a lot of their own personal eccentricities into the characters was thrilling.
Is that really Captain Kirk’s chair?
Yes. What’s nice is that as a way to do some research for this particular show, me and the gang all broke into the Smithsonian and stole the real one. So, the one that they have at the Smithsonian is a replica now.
What continues to be appealing to you about working on television?
I like the consistency of it. I like the pace of it. With the first two experiences I had, I really did respond well to the schedule. It’s a very, very fast moving train. I don’t like sitting around. I really like to get in there and do the job and get it done and feel good about it at the end of the day, and that pretty much seems to be the vibe on all the sets that I’ve gotten to be a part of.
What is it about the character Oz that makes him tick? What attracted you to that character?
Well, I do like the fact that he is an eight-moves ahead kind of guy. You know, he pretty much knows what the outcomes are going to be right from the get-go, which I really appreciated and I like. I think it’s nice to have characters like that on TV. It makes people feel safe and comfortable. Even though it’s a made up character it still, I think, makes people feel safe that there’s somebody out there like that, potentially. I like that he’s in charge. I like that he likes to have fun, that he doesn’t really take things all that seriously and he’s just kind of a guy—a very mysterious guy, and there’s definitely a lot more going on beneath the surface than he’s revealing.
With all of the different projects you’ve done, is there one particularly special to you?
I think so. Usually when I’m doing radio interviews, it always reminds me of Pump Up the Volume. I loved that character. I had a great time. It certainly was in the earlier portion of my career. I loved the director and I loved Samantha Mathis, and I just felt that the story was just very good and very rich and very emotional.
Is this the most extreme, zaniest thing you’ve ever done, would you say?
I think so, certainly on screen or in this particular venue. When I started my career I definitely did movies like Heathers, which was certainly a black comedy and very, very twisted in a lot of ways. So, in a certain respect this is a little bit of a nod and a wink to, I think, some of the earlier things that I started off doing.
In the past, and currently on Breaking In, you’ve played a lot of really morally ambiguous characters. What tends to draw you to roles like that?
I love characters with edge. I love characters that are a little bit more dangerous, a little bit unpredictable. I think they’re just fun to play. They’re definitely more interesting than just your standard, run-of-the-mill action-y type hero. I love just being these guys that are a little offbeat and a little twisted, and just a little dangerous.
Because of a lot of your roles, the public sees you as a dangerous, cool guy with a shady past. Can you tell us anything about yourself that would totally surprise or shock your fans?
I’ve pretty much gone from a “bad boy” to a “dad boy.” Somebody came up with that one yesterday and I really liked it. “Dad boy” is definitely more a fitting moniker for me. I mean I’m going to LEGOLAND on Thursday to check out the new Star Wars exhibit they have there. I’m not going just myself, of course, I’m taking my son.
What would you say has made a career as an actor rewarding for you so far?
I think the opportunities to experience so many different things. To get the opportunity to, quite honestly, travel; see things. At times, I get the opportunities to go on USO tours where if I wasn’t in the position that I’m in I wouldn’t have those chances to get to go to Bahrain or Djibouti, or get to visit the Walter Reed Medical Center. So having those kinds of experiences are quite remarkable and certainly perspective-changing.
Breaking In, premieres Wednesday, April 6th after American Idol.