Christian Slater (Breaking In)

Christian Slater: The Interview (Breaking In)

After a long history and glowing career in the 80s, Christian Slater stepped back through most of the 90s and came back strong in the past few years, attempting to make his mark in television.  After a few tries, Christian Slater is finally Breaking In.  Breaking In premieres on Wednesday, April 6th at 9:30/8:30 Central, following American Idol on FOX. 

SHAKEFIRE: Breaking In shows your great comedic timing and it almost feels sort of like it’s you and not written, and I was wondering if there’s any kind of improv going on?

CHRISTIAN SLATER: Yes 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.  So when I sat down with Doug Robinson and Seth Gordon and Adam Goldenberg [sic], 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!”

SF: I was going ask, was that Captain Kirk chair your idea?  Because I know you’re a fan.

CS: Yes, well a buddy of mine had gotten me the chair—did I say Goldenberg or Goldberg?  I don’t know what I was thinking before—but 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.

SF: What is it about the character Oz that makes him tick?  What attracted you to that character?

CSCS: 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.

SF: With all of the different projects you’ve done, is there one particularly special to you?

CS: 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.

SF: 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?

CS: 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.

SF: Did you always want to get into this industry while you were growing up or did you have other professions in mind?

CS: I did not really get too many opportunities to think of other professions.  My mother talked to me about being a lawyer or a doctor, that sort of thing, but at the same time, she was a casting director so I was surrounded by actors.  I would sit in her casting sessions when she couldn’t get a babysitter and I’d have to sit there and watch actors do auditions over and over again and my father was an actor, so pretty much show business was something that was just kind of ingrained into me at a very, very early age.

SF: Oz in Breaking In are different than a lot of your roles up until now in that it’s a comedy rather than a drama.  What made you decide you wanted to do this genre of TV?

CS: Well, Doug Robinson told me that he’d seen me do a few comedy things.  I did a bit on Curb Your Enthusiasm and I did something on The Office and I was pretty much playing myself in—well I was, I was playing a version of myself in those particular shows.  This was an opportunity to create a character from the ground up and really make somebody come to life in a comedy-esque type fashion.  It was something new, it was something different.  It was something that certainly feels more geared towards my strengths and things that I really do enjoy doing. 

I definitely prefer doing comedy.  I think comedy is vital in our world.  I think it’s very, very important and we need as many excuses to laugh and be jolly at this particular time.

SF: I wanted to ask one thing, in the closing shot of the pilot, next to the Captain Kirk chair, I saw this old book.  Is that on purpose and/or what is that?

CS: Well that is a book—it was a prop that I stole from The Name of the Rose so we figured there’s a good spot for it, so we might as well put it in there and more will be revealed.  A lot of the pages on that are very much like they were in the movie.  They’ve all been—it’s got that poison ink on it.

SF: As you get older, what do you like most about the roles that you receive now, as compared to early days?

CS: Well, it’s funny.  I mean I’m now the boss, which is very interesting.  For me, to kind of—have been around long enough to get the opportunity to be the guy who can actually appropriately sit in the captain’s chair is quite shocking, but I guess that’s just what happens when you keep breathing.

SF: Can we expect any Pump Up the Volume references in the show?

CS: Yes, definitely.  There’ll be—as many references as we can throw in.  As many references as Adam Goldberg is comfortable throwing in.  We’re certainly willing to take those chances and kind of—hopefully not overdo it but keep a nice, fine balance.


Peter Oberth
Interview by Peter Oberth
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