Christian Slater: The stories behind his recent comedic turns (and what he did with those pillows Ellen DeGeneres gave him)
Image Credit: Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos Christian Slater didn’t use to be a morning person, but phoning PopWatch at 6:30 a.m. PT on his way to work Monday — the reason he had to bow out of DirecTV’s Celebrity Beach Bowl last weekend, FYI — you wouldn’t have known it. We chatted about his cameos in last week’s episode of The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s seventh season, andthe new Funny or Die video Nine Lives, as well as about 24‘s Elisha Cuthbert joining the cast of The Forgotten (tonight, ABC, 10 p.m. ET), the viral video he’s just sitting on, and the whereabouts of the belated 40th birthday presents Ellen DeGeneres recently gifted him on her show. (In case you weren’t watching, those were pillows she won on eBay: one with a fully clothed photo of him that read “Don’t wake me I’m dreaming about Christian Slater,” and one with a shirtless shot of him that said “Dream a little dream of me.”)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with your Office cameo. How did that come about?
CHRISTIAN SLATER: John Krasinski directed the episode, and he and I sort of know each other from different types of events, and he’s a really nice dude. He called my agent and was wondering if I’d be available to do this fantastic PSA [on Sabre, the company that bought Dunder Mifflin], and somehow we worked it out with the schedule. It was kind of incredible.
An ABC star on an NBC show — impressive.
I know. It was really a moment where everybody worked together harmoniously. I think it was a lesson for us all.
Did you ad-lib anything? The thumb’s up at the end was classic.
The thumb’s up was a spontaneous moment. I just kind of thought what would be the cheesiest things to do? John wanted it to really look like Kathy Bates [who plays the new boss] paid for this actor to come in and directed him on what to do behind-the-scenes. So I just kept thinking What would Kathy Bates tell me to do?.
During his webcam confrontation with her, Michael asked if you were there, because you’d know what to do. [Slater laughs] What advice would Christian Slater have given Michael at that moment?
That was funny when he said that. What would my advice have been? Please, just sit still, and try to calm down. Easy does it. This too will pass, buddy.
Is there any chance of you coming back? Maybe An Introduction to Sabre Part 2?
Right now, that was a one-time thing. Whether it becomes a recurring role on The Office out of this PSA thing remains to be seen.
How did you end up on Curb Your Enthusiasm?
I take these hikes around the golf course in Los Angeles and this was probably three or four years ago now maybe, Larry David was filming an episode. He was parking his car, and I was coming up the road with a buddy and he said, “Dude, you love that guy. Go say hello.” I was like, “No, no, no. I don’t want to bother him. I’m sure he’s busy.” He’s like, “Dude, no, go say hi.” So I was like, “Hey, Larry!” And went across the street. I said, “I just want to let you know I’m a huge fan. My name’s Christian Slater. I think your show’s great.” And he went, [in not a bad Larry David impersonation] “Oh… really. Okay, okay. Great. Great.” I didn’t hear anything from him for a couple years. I guess it must have stuck in his mind that I was a fan of the show, and he called and asked me if I’d be willing to play the caviar-eating maniac in that particular episode.
Are you hoping to do more comedy?
I love comedy. I just feel blessed to have gotten those kind of opportunities. I would do either of those shows again in a heartbeat. Right now, it’s an open-door policy. Whoever gravitates toward me in that sort of humorous fashion, I’m up for…. I sometimes sit at home, and I’ll make little movies of myself. I did one called The Boring Identity the other day, which was quite fun. I mean, I’ll never release any of these things or put them out there, but when you get a Flip cam in your hand…
So that was a takeoff of The Bourne Identity obviously…
Basically, I turned the camera on and just sat in my replica Kirk chair from the Starship Enterprise, which was a nice Christmas present, for a good 15 minutes in silence before I got bored out of my mind.
Yeah, that was a good one. Maybe I’ll put it out there on YouTube for s—s and giggles. [Laughs]
I’m gonna do a poll on that. I predict a resounding yes.
“Christian Slater in The Boring Identity.” [Laughs]
Your cameo in the Funny or Die video Nine Lives was also great. [A man gets reincarnated multiple times, eventually ending up as Christian Slater, who’s run over by Patricia Arquette for opting out of a True Romance sequel.]
There’s a department in my agency that deals with Funny or Die, and they’d written this script. When I saw it, I was really impressed. Some of the special effects were good. It really looked like…[Laughs]
You got hit! I know!
[Laughs] That was not what I expected at all watching that, but that did make me chuckle a bit. I thought Patricia Arquette looked gorgeous. She hasn’t changed at all.
Did you turn down a sequel?
I don’t know what she was talking about there — if there had been a sequel to True Romance, nobody let me know about it. I was an innocent bystander.
The Forgotten returns tonight. Will you be lightening up that show at all? [He plays a former detective who, after his daughter went missing, chose to lead a team of volunteers who solve murder cases involving unidentified victims.]
When you’re dealing with serious dramatic stuff, you can’t help but laugh sometimes, even when you’re shooting it. We’re trying to come up with a new term for our show because it’s sort of crossing over now a little bit into reality. It’s a “drameality” show, that’s what we’re calling it. I’ve been talking about this since we started, that we had the possibility of actually solving a real case, and we have. Just in December.
A woman who was missing for 20 years, right?
Yeah. Her sister watched an episode of The Forgotten and saw the PSA that ABC was so gracious in putting on after the show for the organization NamUs.gov (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System). She went on there, put in the details of her sister, what tattoos she had. That information had been loaded into that website, and she was positively identified. We made whatever donations were necessary in order to make sure that she was brought back to her family and given the proper arrangements.
You called Elisha Cuthbert and encouraged her to take a recurring role on the show. [Her character comes to the Forgotten Network looking for her brother, then joins them.] Why her?
She and I worked together before on a quirky and very intense little movie called He Was a Quiet Man. She had to play a paraplegic in that film and there were a lot of emotional scenes. Her level of professionalism and focus was a lesson for me. It was great. She’s just brought a lot of energy and chemistry and she’s quite naturally very, very funny.
I read that you cried three times recently reading a script for an upcoming episode. What happens in that episode?!
It’s the last episode that Mark Friedman, the creator and the executive producer of the show, wrote. It’s a very, very special episode. I thought they wrapped it up quite beautifully.
So if The Forgotten doesn’t get renewed, we won’t be left hanging like we were on My Own Worst Enemy? Who killed Tony?! [That’s the technician who’d just figured out how to resolve the glitch with Slater’s dual personalities].
I don’t know who killed Tony! I felt terrible how they literally did just pull the plug [on that show]. Everything just went dark. I always thought if [NBC] wanted to do a two-hour movie of the week just to wrap it, that’d be great. It could have been Alfre [Woodard]. Any number of people could have played a role in Tony’s demise. [Laughs] And I liked that guy. That was sad. Reading how they’re wrapping up this particular season of The Forgotten really made me very happy.
Are you anticipating a second season?
You never know. You hope so. You would like it to be the case. I’m certainly gonna go on and do other things until [ABC Entertainment Group president] Steve McPherson lets me know.
Humorously, I did give one to my girlfriend. [Laughs] So, she goes to sleep every night with a pillowcase that says “I’m dreaming of Christian Slater.”
Was that the shirtless shot of you?
No, no. I hate that freakin’ shirtless photo. That one has always haunted me. Ugh. God. I’m not happy with that one.
Did you burn that pillow? Is that what you’re trying to say?
If I could, I would. That one got put away somewhere. I’m powerless. You make these choices early on in your career, and they haunt you sometimes. You never know when they’re gonna come back, you know, on a pillowcase. [Laughs]