Christian Slater, Odette Annable, Bret Harrison and Alphonso McAuley

To many, Christian Slater will always be known for his dramatic work in films like Interview with the Vampire and True Romance. But that wasn't the case for Breaking In co-creator and executive producer Adam F. Goldberg.

"I sat down with Christian and I basically told him, for me, I think of him as a comedian. Heathers, Very Bad Things, Pump Up the Volume — those are movies that I grew up on and that were really funny," Goldberg tells TVGuide.com.  "He was in our top three from the first moment."

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After years of starring in dramas like 2008's short-lived My Own Worst Enemy and 2009's The Forgotten, Slater is returning to his funny side for Breaking In, a half-hour comedy following the inner-workings of a private security firm both on the job and in the office.

"[My Own Worst Enemy and The Forgotten] were great experiences, I learned a lot, but there was an element of preciousness to them," Slater, 41, says. "They were very, very specific about exactly what they wanted. You just feel you can't really break out of the box."

Fox orders Christian Slater comedy for midseason

The actor had no such restraints on Breaking In. Although the project was one of Fox's highest-testing pilots in recent years, the show failed to be picked up to series last May. Instead, the network ordered two additional scripts from Goldberg to flesh out the characters and tone of the show before the series was officially ordered in November. Such delays may have been a blessing. "I really had a lot of time to get them right and work with Fox on getting every character down," Goldberg says. "Ultimately the cast is really what made it shine and what showed them that there was a future to the show."

Goldberg says Slater helped shape the character of Oz, the leader of the security company whose whereabouts are kept secret and who has an affinity for SkyMall.  "We had this discussion about how I think people like to see him be super cool, but also I think people would be open to him being super goofy and funny at the same time," Goldberg says. "Christian actually really invented the character of this man of mystery."

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Slater relished the opportunity to contribute. "One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone creative is freedom," Slater says.  "I've had a lot of different experiences and some directors are freeing and will allow somebody to really immerse themselves in the role. Some won't. It's really kind of a crapshoot."

Although it's been a few years since Slater last flexed his funny bone, you'd never know it from his co-stars' praises. "You never know where the comedy is coming with him," co-star Bret Harrison says. "He doesn't necessarily read it the way you would or anybody else would think it's written. It keeps me on my toes as an actor."

Lucky for Slater, Breaking In will still allow him chances to call upon his other skill sets. "The thing that's difficult about the show is that it's really ambitious. The episodes have a lot of twists, there's a lot of stunts, there's a lot of visual effects, we're doing little flashbacks," Goldberg says. "Everyone's kind of exhausted."

Breaking In premieres Wednesday at 9:30/8:30c on Fox.