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During the 1980s, Christian Slater emerged as one of film’s leading young actors. He also became somewhat notorious for his life off-screen.
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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).
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