Also Credited As:Christian Michael Leonard Hawkins
|Christian Michael Leonard Hawkins on August 18, 1969 in New York City, New York, USA|
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Slater was born Christian Michael Leonard Hawkins on Aug. 18, 1969, and raised in an entertainment industry family in New York City. His mother, Mary Jo Slater, was a casting agent and his father, Michael Hawkins, was a stage and soap opera actor who fueled his son's interest in acting by allowing him to spend time backstage and on television sets. Slater was ready to take a shot at acting and began auditioning at age six, when he landed a modeling job in a print ad. When he was nine, his mother took him to a live taping of the regional TV favorite "The Joe Franklin Show" (1962-1993), and rumor had it that the host spotted the fresh young face and brought him in front of audiences for a chat. A wowed casting agent tracked down Slater afterwards and auditioned him for a Broadway role alongside Dick Van Dyke in "The Music Man" (1980). He went on to appear in the Broadway musicals "Copperfield" (1981) and "Merlin" (1983), as well as followed his dad into daytime TV with roles on "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968- ) and "All My Children" (ABC, 1970- ). In 1985, he joined the cast of "Ryan's Hope" (ABC, 1975-1989) as the delinquent boyfriend of Ryan Fennelli (Yasmine Bleeth) - a show on which his father had previously played lead patriarch Frank Ryan before he was reportedly fired for his alcoholism.
In his big screen debut, Slater played a gun-slinging, scooter-riding outlaw in the teen caper "The Legend of Billie Jean" (1985). He garnered some attention as Sean Connery's youthful apprentice in the monastery mystery "The Name of the Rose" (1986) and as Jeff Bridges' son in Francis Ford Coppola's "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1988) before landing his first starring role as a skateboarding Californian on a mission in "Gleaming the Cube" (1989), a rote teen film notable for it's classic footage of Southern California's "Bones Brigade" skate crew. Later in the year, Slater's return to juvenile delinquent territory fueled his breakout in the classic black comedy "Heathers" (1989), where Slater co-starred as a mysteriously dark new-kid-in-school who charms a frustrated "popular girl" (Winona Ryder) into murdering annoying classmates. Slater's lackadaisical drawl and distant coolness earned the actor numerous comparisons to Jack Nicholson, and though the offbeat film was not a mainstream success, it became an instant cult classic and established Slater as an attractively dangerous alternative to packaged teen idols like the Corey Haim's and Corey Feldman's of the time.
Buoyed by his rising film profile, the New Yorker relocated to Los Angeles and solidified his bad boy persona with an arrest for driving under the influence, evading police, and assault with a deadly weapon. He was jailed for 10 days and went on to star as a high school outcast who operates a pirate radio station in "Pump Up the Volume" (1990), sparking up a romance with co-star Samantha Mathis as he had done the previous year with Ryder. He earned an Independent Spirit Award for his leading performance before joining Emilio Estevez, Lou Diamond Phillips and Kiefer Sutherland in the popular adventure "Young Guns II" (1990), a beefcake-populated take on the story of Billy the Kid. The self-admitted Trekkie used his mom's connections to sneak a cameo in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991) and held his own against Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman in another "outlaw" role in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (1991). He stumbled with leading roles in the duds "Mobsters" (1991) and "Kuffs" (1992) and began going after more adult fare, with a romantic role opposite Marisa Tomei in the bittersweet drama "Untamed Heart" (1993) as well as teaming up with Patricia Arquette to play another gun-wielding outsider in the Quentin Tarantino-scripted "True Romance" (1993).
Life again imitated art in 1994 when Slater was arrested for attempting to bring a gun on an airplane. He was given community service. In a further act of service, Slater donated his salary from his role as a reporter in Neil Jordan's "Interview with the Vampire" (1994) to charities supported by River Phoenix, who had been signed to play the role before his overdose on drugs in Halloween, 1993. Slater acquitted himself as an idealistic attorney defending an accused killer (Kevin Bacon) in the period drama "Murder in the First" (1995) and proved a serviceable action co-lead to John Travolta in "Broken Arrow" (1996). But then an incident involving alcohol and drugs, an attack on a former girlfriend and a scuffle with police landed Slater in deep trouble yet again. He spent over 100 days in a rehabilitation facility while out on bail and then was sentenced to a three-month term in jail followed by three months in a residential rehab center. Prior to his arrest, Slater had completed another solid actioner, "Hard Rain" (1998), the period drama "Basil" (aired on Romance Classics, 1998), and the black comedy "Very Bad Things" (1998), which he also produced.
The sober light of day seemed to work for Slater. He began to rebound from a chaotic decade with a complex role as a Democrat who switches party lines to oppose a female presidential candidate (Joan Allen) in "The Contender" (2000). Slater starred in the Canadian indie film "Who is Cletis Tout" (2001), playing an escaped convict who assumes the identity of a dead man targeted for a mob hit. He successfully kept himself busy and away from the booze - though he was demoted to supporting player in the Elvis-themed thriller "3000 Miles to Graceland" (2001) and John Woo's moderately popular war flick "Windtalkers" (2002). Slater made headlines in 2003 again when a fight in a Las Vegas, NV hotel room with his wife, Ryan Haddon, ended with her arrest and his emergency room visit to get stitches in his head. Slater joined the ensemble cast of the Renny Harlin misfire, "Mindhunters" (2005), as an FBI profiler-in-training sent to a remote island for a training mission that turns dangerously real. He was demoted to straight-to-video status, starring in the lead as a paranormal investigator in "Alone in the Dark" (2005), with a bespectacled Tara Reid.
If the once captivating lead actor had hit professional bottom with his last title, he followed it up with another personal low as his disintegrating marriage led him back to the bottle, and he was in the news for falling off the roof of a party thrown by Paris Hilton. Slater was rescued from his downward spiral when he was cast in a West End staging of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in the role made famous by Jack Nicholson. Despite accusations that Slater had been imitating the star when he was younger, adult Slater made the role his own and received rave reviews for his eight-month run in London. From the West End, Slater went straight to Broadway, where he starred opposite Jessica Lange in a revival of "The Glass Menagerie." Old pal Emilio Estevez stepped up to offer Slater the part of the Ambassador Hotel restaurant manager in "Bobby" (2006), Estevez's directorial debut about the assassination of Robert Kennedy. He was back in the lead - the invisible lead - in the direct-to-video sequel, "Hollow Man II" (2006).
Slater's gradual return to Hollywood's good graces built up some momentum with a major dramatic challenge in Anthony Hopkins' little-seen experimental outing "Slip Stream" (2007). The actor was better form than he had been in years in the indie drama "He Was a Quiet Man" (2007), revisiting his predilection for outsiders with a starring role as an office worker with twisted fantasies of murder. Critics were wowed by Slater's intense, complex performance, even if the film's odd tone was not a complete success. Slater was invited back to London where he starred to sold-out houses in "Swimming With Sharks," a stage adaptation of the 1997 satire of Hollywood executives. He won over critics again - in the outrageously unlikable role, even - and fought his way back into public favor with a guest role on "My Name is Earl" (NBC, 2005- ) and voicing the animated series "Robot Chicken" (Adult Swim, 2005- ) and the family film "Igor" (2008). In the fall of that year, Slater began a new chapter of his career with a starring TV role in the fortuitously-themed thriller "My Own Worst Enemy" (NBC, 2008-09), in which he worked overtime for his role as a suburban dad unaware that he is also a secret intelligence agency operative, and vice versa. Unfortunately the show was cancelled during its first season. The bounce-back kid returned to primetime the fall of 2009 in "The Forgotten" (ABC, 2009- ), starring as a grieving father and amateur detective who devotes his time to investigating unidentified crime victims.