Jenn Tisdale is a D.C. stand up comic. Follow her on Twitter at @Jenn_Tisdale.
No “celebrities” were harmed in the writing of this column. Its purpose is to mourn the loss of their careers, status, and in all likelihood bank accounts. This is an homage to their life’s work, both well-received and utterly humiliating. I have the utmost respect for all of them, even if they no longer have respect for themselves.
Remember Christian Slater’s hairline? Always teetering on the Piven edge of going bald and actually bald…you know almost to the point where we can actually gleam his cube? I didn’t even mind it and I’m a sucker for a good head of hair. Now, remember Christian Slater’s career?
Slater made his professional acting debut on Broadway opposite Dick Van Dyke in the 1980 revival of The Music Man. Here’s a neat fact, the sister of a guy I used to date just married Dick Van Dyke. I made several shoddy “Mary Poppins,” jokes and you can too if you’re up for it. Christ he also appeared in Copperfield, Merlin, Macbeth, Side Man, The Glass Menagerie and performed in London’s West End in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Swimming With Sharks. Well now I’m really dying to know what happened, as is Christian Slater I imagine.
In 1985 (oh the same year as a little film called “Back to the Future,” was released) Slater starred in “The Legend of Billie Jean,” which does not in fact have anything to do with Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean who was just some chick who got knocked up by one of the Jackson 5. Apparently a legitimate paternity test is looking at your baby’s eyes to see if they look like yours, but I digress. “The Legend of Billie Jean,” stars Helen Slater (NO RELATION) as Billie Jean, a sweet teenage girl turned Joan of Arc icon with Christian Slater playing her brother. Along with a group of misfit teenagers they go on an accidental “crime spree” all in the name of justice. This film gave us two things, one of the first onscreen lady haircuts (sorry Demi Moore and Natalie Portman) and a fan-fucking-tastic catchphrase: “Fair is Fair.”
Sadly “The Legend of Billie Jean,” only gained a cult following but the show must go on. In 1986 Slater’s career took a leap when he starred alongside Sean Connery in “The Name of a Rose.” Slater plays an apprentice monk who is investigating a series of murders at a Benedictine Abbey. No really, a monk.
Then in 1989 “Gleaming the Cube,” happened. I don’t know a single person who even understands what gleaming the cube means but it’s a film about skateboarding and it features a young Tony Hawke and a young Christian Jacobs (of The Aquabats). Christian Slater hates adults in this film and the best way to spit in the face of authority is to skate or die, also wearing an earring helps.
That same year one of the best high school films of all-time was made, “Heathers.” Looking back on “Heathers,” it’s kind of an eerie prophecy about schools today. Christian Slater plays J.D. the new bad boy in town who tries to earn the love and respect of his father by attempting to blow up the high school with his emo “Bonnie” girlfriend played by Winona Ryder. The two can’t seem to get it right as the more fake/accidental suicides they plan to get back at the cool kids…the more martyrs they create. Hey, teenage suicide…don’t do it.
In 1990 Hollywood must have been gagging (with a spoon) for an ensemble cast because someone dug up a sequel to “Young Guns,” in the form of “Young Guns II,” or as I call it “Jung Guns: II” and the whole thing happens in Kiefer Sutherland’s head (probably). Christian Slater plays a boring character in a laughable film based on nothing in history. Next.
I guess the rebel persona is hard to shake because Slater slipped back into it for “Pump up the Volume,” when he played Mark Hunter the DJ behind an FM Pirate Radio Station. The station eventually becomes an outlet for teen angst until MORE teenage suicide happens. I thought we said don’t do it?
Finally in 1993 things took a romantic turn for the better when Slater landed the role of Adam, the boy with the baboon heart in “Untamed Heart.” Yes, I cried a lot. Then that seem year Quentin Tarantino gifted us with “True Romance.” It’s typical Tarantino writing and the thing people seem to remember the most is a stoned Brad Pitt on the couch. Like, really stoned.
Things are going well, right? He then plays a minor role in one of my favorite books turned movies “Interview With the Vampire,” landed a big budget film also starring Scientologist extraordinaire John Travolta (“Hard Rain”), starred in the delightfully dark comedy “Very Bad Things” (also starring Jeremy Piven, both hairlines in one movie?!?!)
Sadly Slater had a few run-ins with Johnny Law. In 1989 he was arrested for drunk driving and assault, in 1994 he tried to board a commercial plane with a gun in his luggage (why not?), in 1997 he was convicted of assaulting his then girlfriend, and finally in 2005 he was arrested after allegedly sexually harassing a woman on the street. Slater denied the charge though the whole thing was caught on video. “He didn’t do anything,” you guys…”this is bull (bleep).”
Unfortunately most of the work he gets today are roles where he plays himself. The acting kiss of death appears to be when you are asked to just play yourself. It’s as if the acting world is saying: “Well, we don’t really think you have any range…what do you normally do on a Sunday afternoon? Okay yeah…just do that.” Hopefully he’ll come back to us someday…if only to finally let us know exactly what gleaming the cube is.