‘Forgotten’? Not Christian Slater

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Christian Slater, who has been acting since he was 9-years-old, stars in "The Forgotten."
Michael Desmond/ABC/MCT

BURBANK, Calif. — Actor Christian Slater’s long and
successful career makes it seem like he never missed out on anything. But there
is one thing that passed him by, he says: life.

When he was 27 he’d already worked 18 years. “My life
about that time was working and stressing about working. That was pretty much
what it was based on. I really didn’t know there were other things to do. I had
no concept or clue,” says Slater in the commissary on the Warner Bros.
lot.

“I would work and go home at night and live in this
house behind gates, so I was very isolated, very closed off. And I didn’t
really know how to maneuver within society. I just didn’t know how to do it. I
felt very insecure and all these things,” he says.

“I had other people doing things for me, so what did I
know? You start to strip away a lot of those things, and you show up for life
and be a little more present and have some adventures.”

Slater’s father was an actor and his mom a casting agent.
He’d started working at 9. And though he’s had some minor run-ins with the law,
Slater is one child actor who managed to morph into an adult performer with
validated credits like “Heathers,” “Broken Arrow,”
“True Romance” and his new ABC drama, “The Forgotten.”

The series is based on real American volunteers who devote
their time to researching unknown murder victims, John and Jane Does, who end
up in the morgue without identification. Once the police have exhausted their
resources, the team takes over helping to identify these nameless souls, but
also helping to solve the crimes.

It’s another project in which Slater deeply immerses
himself. But at 40, there’s more to him than the next performance.

“I’m still shy and I get nervous,” he ventures,
“I’m definitely not walking around like Superman … The pendulum swings
to extremes. It’s a process of finding out where you feel comfortable and where
the balance is.

“I don’t have a lot of friends. I have a few friends. I
have people in my life I count on who are phenomenally loyal and have my back.
When you have that, it helps you to feel safer, more secure and you’re with
people that think in a similar way that you do. That’s a real gift. In the last
few years I’ve been blessed with that kind of gift — to have people like that
in my life.”

One of his wake-up calls was the birth of his son and later,
a daughter. “That was a huge eye-opening, shifting moment,” he says,
sipping from a Styrofoam coffee mug.

“Having kids, I think I started to look at my life and
take some notice of it and started to ask myself, in a way maybe interviewing
myself, ‘What are the things you’re insecure about, the things you don’t feel
good about in yourself?”‘

One of those things was his education. “I always felt a
little embarrassed about that because I dropped out of high school. I didn’t
take school seriously at all. I pretty much finagled and felt like I was
getting away with murder my whole high school. And I always carried that
around. And you can’t escape certain things; it weighs on you, especially when
you know there’s something you can do about it.”

So Slater hired a tutor and studied for the GED, which he
earned. “Once you have kids, obviously I want them to get a good education
and have a good foundation. It is important, a good foundation, and I don’t
think it was anything I took seriously because I was working. My kids are 10
and 8 now and I started earning a living at 9 so my focus was obviously
elsewhere. It just was. But you can only run from things for so long.”

As the star of several action movies, Slater also felt he
was faking it. So he began to study karate. “My next test will be the
brown belt test, so I’m getting closer and closer to the black belt test, but
my schedule and the way it goes gets in the way now of things I enjoy doing for
my life.”

Divorced from his wife of six years, Ryan Haddon, Slater’s
social calendar has always been filled with beautiful and famous women. But
there’s no one right now, he shrugs. “I’ve no problems with marriage, it’s
all about the right person, the right chemistry and working it out. Right now
I’m just taking it easy in that regard. Right now I don’t really have time for
that. I have crushes, but have no energy to take advantage of them,” he
smiles.

“We all have the opportunity to give ourselves our own
happy endings if we’re willing to take the action to show up and do it and
participate and have that willingness.”

———

Hot on the heels of the cancellation of A&E’s “The
Cleaner,” Benjamin Bratt will be returning for an episode of “Law
& Order” as Det. Reynaldo Curtis, a role he played on the show for
four years. During his tenure on NBC’s “L&O” he was nominated for
an Emmy. He didn’t win, but the real oversight is that he wasn’t nominated for
“The Cleaner,” an admirable show that displayed Bratt at his
sensitive best.

———

Every Sunday and Tuesday nights IFC will be offering two
back-to-back episodes of the formerly Fox classic comedy, “Arrested
Development.” The show, which stars Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael
Cera, Will Arnett and Portia de Rossi, was enormously popular with the critics,
but just couldn’t grab the ratings to keep going. De Rossi says she knew right
away that “Arrested Development” was the show for her. “After
‘Ally McBeal’ it was kind of a tall order to find a show that was as
groundbreaking and that quality of writing that was similar to David Kelley.
When I started reading pilots and trying to work out what I wanted to do next,
it was a little scary right up until I got this pilot sent to me. I read it,
and I have never in my whole life laughed so much.”

In any case, it proves that there can be life after
cancellation.

———

John Wells is not downhearted about his dynamite police
drama, “Southland” going south. In fact, he’s signed with Showtime to
work with British author Paul Abbott on a pilot of Abbott’s long running
series, “Shameless,” to star William H. Macy.

The show is based on Abbott’s own dysfunctional family and
was a hit in England. Abbott, who was one of eight children, tells me,
“Both parents deserted us and we were brought up by our 16-year-old
sister, who was pregnant at the time. She couldn’t support us. We couldn’t
(make a) claim because we had to hide from the authorities. They would’ve split
us up. So we all worked small jobs … we all worked and that’s how we funded
ourselves. My mom deserted first and then Dad deserted. So we were just there
and kind of grew ourselves up.”

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.