In Christian Slater’s last TV series, My Own Worst Enemy, he starred as Secret Agent Edward Albright and his cover alias, Henry Spivey, who has no idea of his double life, because he has a chip in his brain to separate both experiences.
In his new series, the forgotten, he gets to play just one role, Alex Donovan, an ex-detective who left the force when his young daughter disappears. With the help of his former protégé, Detective Grace Russell, Alex agrees to assist a group of amateur sleuths called The Forgotten Network, who are driven to solving John and Jane Doe cases, giving a name to the nameless and discovering how they died, bringing closure to their families.
Can you talk about your last TV experience and whether that whet your appetite for a lot more television work?
I think it did. I had a great time doing that show for as many episodes as we got to do. It was certainly challenging and difficult so that I guess I wasn’t really looking to do another TV show immediately. And I think the impression that might have gone out there is that I didn’t want to do it again ever, which was not the truth at all.
Jerry Bruckheimer plays hockey, and my agent also plays, and I think they met in a locker room and they ended up talking about the show. Jerry said he was looking for an actor for a new show that he was doing, and my agent put it together. So it all came together in the locker room. I couldn’t be more grateful to been given this opportunity and have someone like Jerry Bruckheimer pass me the ball in the way that he has, so I show up and try to help these guys deliver the message and image that they want with the show.
Are you a fan of mysteries, do you read them?
I do. I love mysteries. About a year ago I started reading my kids three chapters of Nancy Drew every night, and they’re so into it. And the idea of cliff-hangers and keeping them engaged, their enthusiasm has really got me very excited about this.
Is this an ensemble show or, now that you’re on it, is it the Christian Slater show?
This is more of a ‘we’ show that a ‘me’ show. I’m certainly getting to do my fair share of work, but I feel like it’s less taxing than on My Own Worst Enemy. I think we were trying to make the character in that a superhero and that was a lot of pressure for an actor every day. Alex Donavan in the forgotten is a human being and he’s much more grounded and much more interested in working with a team, and he’s got a good team with him.
Your character is a ex-cop, what happened?
Honestly, I think he had a couple of meltdowns. I think when he lost his daughter he became so obsessed with that that he probably couldn’t focus for a little while on anything else. And then when he finally came to terms that he needed to do something else with his life, he fortunately knew Detective Russell, and she was kind enough to give him some cases to work on, and where he can’t fill a void in himself, he tries to do that with other people and other families.
When there is a John or Jane Doe, there is a family out there that doesn’t know where their son or daughter, mother or father is, so they’re at home worried, they’re freaking out, they don’t have any closure. So these characters provide them with that. So now they have the ability to grieve, and hopefully be able to move on with their lives.
Do you find the subject matter depressing?
It’s got to start on a particular note, and then go through the process with us identifying the innocent and capturing the guilty. So, in a way. there is a finality to it. The person who was killed, their life gets closure, and the person who did the deed, gets taken away by the police.
After doing My Own Worst Enemy, is it going to be easier to concentrate on one character? Or was it easier to have two difference characters to play because it gave you such a range?
That was something that was obviously intriguing which got me interested in it initially. And like I said, I enjoyed doing it. I think if it had actually gone on, I might have been like, ‘I’m getting a little schizophrenic here now.’ But I loved My Own Worst Enemy, which is a nice experience to have had.
But with this one, playing somebody who doesn’t have a microchip in his head separating the two characters is nice. Playing Alex Donovan, who’s very human and who has really had some phenomenally difficult experiences to go through, is great. He’s trying to cope with it in the best way he knows how. And because he hasn’t been able to gain any closure in his own life, now he fills that void within himself by giving the closure to the lives of other people.