(written from a Production point of view)
|Birth name:||Christian Michael Leonard Hawkins|
|Date of birth:||18 August 1969|
|Place of birth:||New York City, New York, USA|
|Character(s):||USS Excelsior night-shift communications officer|
Christian Michael Leonard Hawkins (born 18 August 1969; age 46), better known as Christian Slater, is an American actor hailing from New York, New York. (His father, actor Thomas Slater, used Michael Hawkins and Michael Gainsborough as his stage names.) Slater appeared in a cameo role as the night-duty officer in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The character was not named in the script or in dialog and is credited as "Excelsior Communications Officer" (an identical credit was given to Grace Lee Whitney-- and in fact, the scene in the novelization featured her character instead of Slater's). Slater is a big Star Trek fan and got the part through his mother, Mary Jo Slater, who was in charge of casting the film. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 142)
A huge Trekkie, Slater even joked once that he would shave his eyebrows to dress up as Spock for Halloween. This started a rumor that his eyebrows never grew back in properly, giving them a distinctive look. His link to Trek goes even further – his godfather was Michael Zaslow, who appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series and in Star Trek: First Contact.
Slater began acting at the age of seven, making his debut on the ABC soap opera The Edge of Night. Following a run on another ABC soap, One Life to Live, Slater began appearing in Broadway plays. His first play was the 1980 revival of The Music Man, playing the son of a trumpet player. His subsequent Broadway credits include a revival of Macbeth and the original production of Merlin, in which he played the title character in his youth.
In an early television appearance, Slater starred opposite Brent Spiner in a 1984 episode of Tales from the Darkside. That episode, entitled "A Case of the Stubborns", was based on a story by Robert Bloch.
He made his feature film debut in 1985's The Legend of Billie Jean, co-starring Dean Stockwell. He followed this with a significant role in the 1986 film The Name of the Rose, opposite the likes of Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham and Ron Perlman.
In 1988, he played Junior Tucker in Francis Ford Coppola's Tucker: The Man and His Dream. By this time, he had been gaining recognition in Hollywood, allowing him to land lead roles in several films. He had his first starring role in 1989's Gleaming the Cube, a thriller co-starring Art Chudabala, Richard Herd and Ed Lauter. Later that year he again worked with F. Murray Abraham in the science fiction film Beyond the Stars, playing the teenage son of a computer scientist played by Robert Foxworth. Slater's girlfriend in this movie was played by Olivia d'Abo.
More notably, Slater co-starred with Winona Ryder in the 1989 black comedy Heathers, which has become a cult classic. This film's success garnered Slater even more recognition, paving the way for him to become a successful Hollywood leading man.
Box office stardom
Slater was at the peak of his popularity during the early to mid-1990s. During this time, he had the lead roles in such films as Pump Up the Volume (1990, for which he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award), costarring Gregg Daniel, Alexander Enberg, Clayton Landey, Robert Schenkkan, John K. Shull and Ed Trotta. He played the title character in 1992's Kuffs (for which he received an MTV Movie Award nomination as "Most Desirable Male"), which co-starred George De La Peña and Leon Rippy as the lead villains, and featured Ashley Judd in a small guest role filmed concurrently with her appearance on TNG's "The Game."
1993's True Romance earned him a Saturn Award nomination and an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Kiss; his character happens to be a Trekkie who is excited that his actor friend could meet William Shatner. This film also starred Saul Rubinek and was photographed by Jeffrey L. Kimball.
Slater also had supporting roles in a number of box office hits, including Arkansas Dave Rudabaugh in Young Guns II (1990, co-starring Alan Ruck and Leon Rippy), Will Scarlett in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), and the interviewer in Interview with the Vampire (1994, with Kirsten Dunst). He was again nominated by the MTV Movie Awards as Most Desirable Male for the latter film, which was based on the bestselling novel written by Anne Rice.
His role in 1993's Untamed Heart won him two MTV Movie Awards, one as Most Desirable Male and one for Best Kiss (with Marisa Tomei). In contrast, his performance as "Lucky" Luciano in 1991's Mobsters (co-starring F. Murray Abraham, Seymour Cassel, and Titus Welliver) earned him a Razzie Award nomination as Worst Supporting Actor. In addition, Slater voiced the role of Pips in the 1992 animated film FernGully: The Last Rainforest, which also featured the voices of Geoffrey Blake, Harvey Jason, Pamela Segall, and Robin Williams.
Following Star Trek VI, Slater again worked with his mother, Mary Jo Slater, when he starred in the 1995 crime drama Murder in the First along with Brad Dourif, Ben Slack, Eve Brenner, Time Winters and Stefan Gierasch. Slater then played the hero in the 1996 action film Broken Arrow, which also featured Bob Gunton, Casey Biggs, Vyto Ruginis, Kurtwood Smith, Vince Deadrick, James MacDonald, and Raymond Cruz.
Although his popularity and box office draw has decreased since the 1990s, Slater has continued to star in a number of high profile films. Some of these films include 1998's Very Bad Things (featuring Leland Orser and Lawrence Pressman), 2000's The Contender (cast by his mother and featuring his True Romance co-star and fellow Trek alum Saul Rubinek), 3000 Miles to Graceland (with Morgan Margolis), 2002's Windtalkers (with Holmes Osborne), and 2004's Mindhunters (with Clifton Collins, Jr.). He has even returned to the stage, starring in the Broadway productions of Side Man and a 2005 revival of The Glass Menagerie, in addition to a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in London. In 2007, he starred in a stage production of Swimming with Sharks at London's Vaudeville Theatre.
Slater has also returned to television. He made three appearances on The West Wing in 2002, playing US Navy Lieutenant Commander Jack Reese. He later appeared in two episodes of J.J. Abrams' hit spy series Alias as scientist Neil Caplan, with Tracy Middendorf playing his wife. He also provided voice-overs for the television shows The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and Robot Chicken and appeared in an episode of My Name is Earl.
Slater was part of the large ensemble cast that made up the acclaimed 2006 biographical drama Bobby. Afterward, he starred with Fionnula Flanagan and William Lucking in Anthony Hopkins' science fiction comedy Slipstream. He more recently starred in the title role of the independent comic drama He Was a Quiet Man. His other recent films include the action thrillers Love Lies Bleeding and Lies & Illusions. He also lent his voice to the 3D animated film Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey, along with Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Picardo, but he was later replaced (and his vocal work redubbed) by Star Wars actor Hayden Christensen.
Slater starred in the one-hour spy drama My Own Worst Enemy, which aired on NBC in the fall of 2008 but was canceled after nine episodes. On the show, Slater portrayed a middle-class efficiency expert who discovers he is also a secret government agent, a separate personality which manifests itself through a microchip implanted in his brain. Three other Star Trek alumni were cast members on this series: Mädchen Amick (as the wife of Slater's character), James Cromwell (as the chief of operations at Slater's character's organization), and Alfre Woodard (as Slater's character's supervisor).
Most recently, Slater starred in the crime drama The Forgotten, which aired on ABC in September 2009 until its cancellation in 2010. On 22 January 2010, Slater participated in the fund-raising program Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief. He was among the celebrities who operated the phones for the benefit, along with Star Trek actors Chris Pine, Zoë Saldana, and Tyler Perry, Star Trek: Voyager actress Jeri Ryan, and Robin Williams.. In 2011, he starred in the short-lived Fox TV series Breaking In. In the pilot of that show, his character is seated in what he claims is the actual captain's chair from the original Star Trek.