Since the late 80s, Christian Slater has been one of the most instantly recognisable actors working in Hollywood. From his breakout role as handsome teenage sociopath JD in 1989’s Heathers, to his more recent work as the enigmatic computer hacker in Mr Robot, Slater has gained a reputation for playing characters that manage to be engaging while still being duplicitous, mysterious and more.
Even if the backstories of many of his characters are played close to the chest, there’s a lot we do know about this former teen heartthrobs rise to fame. From his upbringing as a bona fide New York theatre kid to his various run-ins with the authorities to the laidback martial artist he has become in later life, here are 20 facts you probably didn’t know about Christian Slater.
20. He once claimed that his eyebrows were styled after Mr Spock’s
Lots of actors have a distinguishing feature, and Christian Slater’s is undoubtedly his eyebrows.
His brows have been used at various points in his career to make him look flirtatious, menacing, mischievous – or all three.
Slater’s eyebrows are undeniably an essential part of what makes his performances so iconic and memorable.
Many interviewers have picked up on this over the years, asking what exactly happened to make Slater’s brows look so unique.
Early on in his career, Christian Slater maintained that his thin and pointy eyebrows were the result of shaving half of each one off as a child, in order to commit to a more authentic Spock costume at Halloween.
However, he has recently taken back this story, explaining that he was just a nervous young actor who made up an interesting lie instead of sticking to the mundane truth: that his eyebrows just look like that.
19. He got into William Shatner’s pants
Speaking of Spock, Christian Slater might not have managed to share a costume with Leonard Nimoy himself, but he did manage to get pretty intimate with another crew member of the Enterprise.
Slater’s mother was the casting director on 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and, as a result, Slater found himself cast in the movie as a communications officer on the Excelsior.
While shooting the film, Christian Slater was given a pair of trousers to wear that had previously been worn by William Shatner.
Shatner had worn the pants in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Slater realised whose pants he was wearing when he saw Shatner’s name still sewn inside the trousers.
He went on to quip in a BBC interview that he was “very proud” to have made it into Shatner’s pants.
18. His own father sued him
Slater essentially grew up inside the entertainment industry. His mother is casting director Mary Jo Slater, while his father is Michael Hawkins.
Hawkins is also commonly known as Tom Slater and is arguably best known for his portrayal of Ryan in soap opera Ryan’s Hope.
Tom Slater may have helped launch his son’s acting career, but that doesn’t mean the two have always had an easy relationship.
Back in February 2016, Tom Slater filed a staggering $20 million lawsuit against his son.
Slater claimed that his son had defamed him after revealing that his father suffered from schizophrenia in an interview with Interview magazine in 2015.
The lawsuit was eventually thrown out due to the case’s lack of “significant legal grounding.”
17. His first experience with alcohol was at nine years old
Growing up in a showbiz family and performing from a young age had many benefits for Christian Slater, but it also came with its downsides.
Chief among them was his exposure to substances like drugs and alcohol, which occurred when he was still very much a child.
Slater has revealed in interviews that he was first offered a drink at just nine-years-old and has struggled with his relationship with alcohol ever since.
Slater’s substance issues were at one point such a driving force in his life that he said in an interview “work is my hobby, staying sober is my job”.
In 2009, after numerous years living in recovery, he amended the sentiment by saying: “Work is my job, and having adventures with my kids. My kids are all-important.”
It seems that to this day Slater has managed to keep himself on the straight and narrow.
16. He’s been arrested at least four times
Before Christian Slater embarked on a life of sobriety, he had several brushes with the law.
He was arrested in 1994 for attempting to board a plane with a handgun in his luggage and was subsequently sentenced to three days of community service working with homeless children.
He was arrested again in 1997 after a two-day bender without sleep, during which he allegedly assaulted both a police officer and his girlfriend.
He was sentenced to three months in jail and a further three months in a rehabilitation facility.
In 2005, Slater was once again arrested in New York for allegedly following and assaulting a woman.
The charges were subsequently dropped due to lack of evidence, but Slater was told to keep out of trouble for six months. The warning seemed to have an effect, as Slater has not had a run-in with the police since.
15. He replaced River Phoenix in Interview with the Vampire after Phoenix died
Some actors develop a similar brand to one or more of their contemporaries as they rise through the ranks of Hollywood, leaving both to constantly fight it out for the same roles.
For Christian Slater, the actor he was compared to the most was almost certainly River Phoenix.
The pair were born just one year apart and constantly auditioned for the same projects.
The two actors’ careers followed a similar trajectory, up until Phoenix tragically died in 1993.
As a result, Slater ended up accepting one of the roles that had recently been offered to his rival – that of the interviewer in Interview with the Vampire, which Phoenix had been cast in before his death.
After Interview with the Vampire was released in 1994, Slater donated his whole paycheck to Phoenix’s favourite charities as a tribute.
14. He once got into a car chase with a deputy sheriff
Of all his arrests, Christian Slater’s first experience with the police was maybe the most high-profile.
In 1989, Slater was arrested in West Hollywood after leading the Sheriff’s deputies on an extended car chase.
Slater was followed by police after he was spotted driving his Saab over 50 mph while in a 35mph zone.
Over the course of the chase, Slater crashed into a telephone pole, got out of his car, kicked a police officer, and attempted to escape over a fence.
In the end, Slater was charged with evading police, driving under the influence, assault with a deadly weapon and driving with a suspended licence.
As for the weapon in question, it was decided that the cowboy boots Slater were wearing posed a significant safety threat to the police officers involved.
13. He got a daughter as a birthday present
Over the course of his life, Christian Slater has been married twice, first to journalist Ryan Haddon in 2000, and then to Brittany Lopez in 2013.
He currently has three children: a son and a daughter born during his relationship with Haddon, and another daughter that he shares with Lopez.
His second daughter, named Lena, was born on the 16th of August 2019, and brought home two days later on the 18th.
That means that Christian Slater’s daughter arrived home exactly on his 50th birthday – what a coincidence!
Slater gushed about his daughter Lena in an interview with People in 2020, saying that one of his favourite moments has been “getting to see [her] start crawling.”
“It really does brighten up your life. She’s a joy to be around,” he continued.
12. He has a green belt in karate
Between shooting films, appearing in magazines, giving interviews and attending movie premieres, the life of an actor can get pretty busy.
With that said, everybody needs a hobby, and Christian Slater has spent years working through his stress and busyness by practising karate.
As odd as it may sound, Slater has the distinction of a green belt with brown stripes, and uses martial arts both to stay in shape and to practise mindfulness and meditation.
The star first signed up for martial arts lessons in an attempt to get over his feelings of inadequacy surrounding his short stature.
In an interview, Slater opened up about his experience of getting involved in martial arts.
“[The teachers] definitely didn’t cut me any slack in there. We were all kicking each others’ butts – it was great,” he said.
11. His first acting job was a Pampers commercial
Speaking to Interview in 2015, Slater revealed that his first-ever job was in a Pampers commercial.
“My father was an actor and my mother was his agent, so I had it on both sides, the crazy actor and his representation,” he said.
“The first job I had was a Pampers commercial,” he continued. “And I used to go with my father whenever he would do a performance.”
Slater continued to work on his acting career throughout his childhood: when he was eight, he played the role of “boy in the doctor’s office” in one episode of the long-running soap opera One Life to Live.
He even stopped going to school in order to focus on his career. “I had tutors,” he told the Guardian in 2015, “but education was just not a priority.”
When Slater was 30 he went back to school to get his diploma after realising he was deeply insecure about his lack of education.
10. He and Winona Ryder both developed a crush on one another on the Heathers set
It’s fair to say that about 99% of teenage boys in the 1980s had a crush on Winona Ryder.
Christian Slater was no different, and made no secret of his feelings towards Ryder on the set of Heathers.
“I mean, I definitely… let her know. Sure I did! I was 17, just hormones and ego. And the sense of invincibility that comes with that,” he told the Guardian in 2015.
It seems the feeling was mutual. In a 2014 interview with EW, Ryder said: “I had, like, such a big crush on him.”
But despite this, it doesn’t seem as though Ryder and Slater ever officially dated or got together.
“There were a couple of times where we tried to go out, but there was always some sort of drama,” Ryder confessed.
9. Working with Sean Connery made Slater ‘shake in his boots’
Most actors would have loved the chance to work with the late Sean Connery at some stage in their career.
Slater was lucky enough to have the honour of working with the Bond star when he was just 16 years old in the film The Name of the Rose.
“I was a 16-year-old kid coming to this six-month shoot in Germany and in Rome,” Slater told Interview in 2015.
“Having this experience, having Sean Connery there was extraordinarily helpful,” he said, recalling his time working with Connery.
“He’s just a king and was such a great example for me. But also a little intimidating – the guy’s James Bond for God’s sake,” he went on.
“Being a sensitive, nervous, sometimes insecure actor, there were moments when I was shaking in my boots. But he made me feel a lot safer than I would have had he not been there.”
8. He purposely imitates Jack Nicholson
With his slow, distinctive speaking style, it’s no surprise that Slater has been compared to Academy Award-winning actor Jack Nicholson.
Slater doesn’t seem to mind these comparisons, however. In fact, he actively tries to imitate Nicholson.
Slater consciously drew inspiration from Nicholson when it came to his performance of tortured teen J.D. in Heathers.
Speaking to Rolling Stone in 1989, Nicholson confessed that he believes Nicholson is “the best actor around.”
Slater later explained to Yahoo! Movies in 2008 that he’d also watched a bunch of Nicholson films before filming Heathers.
“I was obsessed and impressionable and loved his work and performances in all of those movies and was such a fan,” he said. “[I] was just absorbing a lot of what I saw in the movies.”
7. He could have been in Pulp Fiction and The Crow
Admittedly, Slater was in a lot of iconic 80s and 90s movies, including Heathers and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
But Slater turned down the chance to be in even more classic films in the 80s and 90s.
Studio bosses were reportedly very keen to get Slater signed on for the role of Ringo (or ‘Pumpkin’) in Pulp Fiction.
But Tarantino had written the part with Tim Roth in mind and unfortunately had the final word.
Slater also was in the running for the role of undead rock star Eric Draven in The Crow.
Brandon Lee landed the role instead – and, tragically, died during shooting after a stunt went horribly wrong.
6. He’s still trying to get his passion project going
Lots of Hollywood stars tend to dabble in directing or producing alongside acting – and Slater is no different.
However, Slater is still yet to get his passion project off the ground – although it’s been in the pipeline for many years.
Back in 1995, publishers Wild Card Press released Will Viharo’s Love Stores Are Too Violent for Me.
Slater then stumbled across this obscure book in a Los Angeles bookstore back in 2001.
He loved the story so much that he managed to secure the film rights and adapt the novel into a screenplay.
Slater still hasn’t managed to get the project up and running even though it’s been 20 years since he first read Love Stores Are Too Violent for Me – but perhaps he’ll make some progress soon.
5. He ad-libbed an iconic line in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
One of Slater’s lines from the iconic 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is particularly memorable.
After Robin and Azeem are catapulted over the castle wall, Slater’s character says “f*** me, he cleared it!”.
This profane line was actually ad-libbed by Slater, but director Kevin Reynolds decided to keep it in.
The line is pretty historically inaccurate but Reynolds concluded that it was so funny it was worth including in the final cut.
The line was ultimately removed from the UK release of the film, however, so that it could earn a PG rating.
Former BBFC chief James Ferman ultimately went on to regret releasing the film with a PG rating.
4. He claims he is a “total feminist”
Back in May 2005, Slater was arrested in New York after he allegedly groped a woman on the street.
He was then charged with third-degree sexual abuse – but ultimately these charges were later dropped.
Although the case was dropped, this incident had a seriously detrimental impact on Slater’s reputation.
In 2005 he was even described by Gawker as “serial groper Christian Slater”. But nowadays he considers himself a changed man.
He described himself as a “total feminist” in an interview with the Guardian in 2015, 10 years after the groping incident.
He went on to say that the issue of the gender pay gap was of “vital importance… It’s just frustrating that we live in a society that is slow to change,” he said.
3. He appeared in one of the biggest flops in Broadway history
Throughout most of his career, Christian Slater has been considered predominantly a film actor, even if his stint as the titular Mr Robot has made him more of a recognisable face among television audiences.
However, as a child of entertainment professionals who grew up attending a performing arts school in New York, Slater has also done more than his share of theatre.
As a young teenager at the beginning of his career, Christian Slater even appeared in the musical Merlin.
Merlin ultimately went on to become one of the most notorious flops to ever make it to Broadway.
Merlin was a star vehicle for celebrity magician Doug Henning’s magic, with Slater playing both young Merlin and Arthur.
The show received disastrous reviews but thankfully did not derail Slater’s career.
2. He was one of the last people cast in Mr Robot
Back in 2015, Slater made his first small screen appearance as the eponymous Mr Robot.
Slater starred in the show alongside Rami Malek. Malek played Elliot Anderson, an anxiety-ridden cybersecurity engineer and hacker.
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Slater starring as insurrectionary anarchist and hacktivist Mr Robot.
But it actually took producers a long time before they decided on casting Slater in the titular role.
In a 2016 interview with Observer, casting director Susie Farris said: “that was a tough part to cast. I think we cast that role last.”
“We were all in LA, and Christian is based in New York, so that wasn’t an immediate thing,” she continued. “Then when [the crew] went to New York they sat down with Christian, and then they knew.”
1. He comes from a showbiz family
It’s fair to say that performing runs in Christian Slater’s veins. Born in New York in 1969 to professional actor Michael Hawkins, of Ryan’s Hope fame, his mother is agent, producer and executive Mary Jo Slater.
Going even further back, Christian Slater’s great-uncle was Bill Slater, a legendary radio host who dominated America’s airwaves from the 1920s to the 1950s.
With such a history of performing in the family, it makes sense that Slater went on to attend both the Professional Children’s School.
This was a college prep school designed to accommodate the busy lives of children working on Broadway.
He then went on to attend the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.
These early educational experiences solidified Slater’s childhood desire to follow in his family’s footsteps and go into the world of entertainment.