Born into a show business family -- father Michael Hawkins is a stage actor and mother Mary Jo Slater is a casting director -- Christian Slater made his acting debut at age eight after his mother cast him in the television soap opera One Life to Live on a lark. The following year Slater was on Broadway starring opposite Dick Van Dyke in The Music Man. Slater would remain on Broadway for at least two more productions. As a youth, Slater attended Manhattan's Professional Children's School. He made his television debut in the movie Living Proof: The Hank Williams Junior Story (1983) and his film debut two years later when he was only 16 in The Legend of Billy Jean. Slater earned some of his first favorable notice starring opposite Sean Connery in The Name of the Rose (1986). He next appeared in Tucker, a Man and His Dream (1988), and more films followed after that, but Slater did not become a star until he co-starred opposite Winona Ryder in the darkly satirical Heathers in which he played an anarchic sociopath. His maniacal over-the-top performance led to comparisons with Jack Nicholson. After Heathers, it looked as if Slater was destined to be typecast into playing lunatic villains or seriously troubled youths. In the latter regard, life seemed to mirror his art.
In 1989, he was arrested in West Hollywood for leading the police on a drunken car chase that ended when Slater crashed his car into a telephone pole. While trying to escape the car, he kicked a cop with his cowboy boot and then attempted to flee over a fence. In 1994, he was arrested for taking a gun aboard a plane. In 1997, Slater was arrested for attacking his lover and biting a police officer in the belly while drinking heavily; he was sentenced to spend 90 days in a suburban jail in early 1998, all this just one day after his newest film, Hard Rain, premiered. Shortly after sentencing, Slater admitted that he had also been taking cocaine and heroin at the time. As part of his sentence, he had to serve post-jail time in a drug/alcohol rehab program and attend a year-long program on preventing domestic violence.
Despite his personal struggles, Slater has maintained a film career starring as a high school geek with a cool secret life in Pump Up the Volume (1990) to the romantic Bed of Roses (1996) to high-voltage actioners like Broken Arrow (1996). In his 1997 production Julian Po, he gained weight, grew a mustache, and appeared as a suicidal bookkeeper who embezzles money from his company so he can fulfill one final wish. Though subsequent roles in such critically-panned films as 3000 Miles to Graceland, Windtalkers, and Alone in the Dark did little to advance Slater's career, recurring roles in such popular television series' as Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing and J.J. Abrams' Alias offered not only more exposure, but a chance to reestablish himself on the small screen as well. Meanwhile, a promising debut as a secret agent with a duel personality on NBC's My Own Worst Enemy proved a bit of a false start when the network never offered the show a chance to find its legs. Ever resiliant, Slater quicky bounced back with ABC's The Forgotten in 2009 and Fox's Breaking In in 2011, though neither series failed to catch on, leaving the veteran actor to take up arms as a vengeful gunslinger in the 2012 western Dawn Rider, and get caught up in one of history's most notorious blood feud's in Fred Olen Ray's Bad Blood: The Hatfiends and McCoys.