Christian Slater Becomes His Own Worst Enemy
In My Own Worst Enemy (premieres Monday, Oct. 13, 10 pm/ET, NBC), Christian Slater plays two roles: Henry Spivey, a mild-mannered, suburban dad who travels a lot for work and wishes he had more time for his family, and Edward Albright, a dashing international operative who works for a top-secret intelligence agency. The catch: They share a body, and are unaware of the other's existence, initially anyway. In the pilot episode, titled "Breakdown," a malfunctioning computer chip inside Henry/Edward's head starts to "flip the switch" at inopportune moments, giving the two men unwelcome glimpses into the lives of their very different alter egos. Slater tells us why he decided to do a TV show, the difference between playing the two characters, and why people shouldn't worry about this show's resemblance to Joss Whedon's Dollhouse.TVGuide.com: Which of the two characters do you most identify with?
TVGuide.com: You're a movie star. Why do this TV show?
Christian Slater: I liked the dual-personality aspect of the script. I thought the title was great fun, and that the Jekyll-and-Hyde premise, that angel-and-devil-on-your-shoulder theme, was something very identifiable and interesting.
I think in the beginning, I thought, gosh, I really want to be Edward. You know, Edward is this cool, tough guy. But as we've gone along, I've discovered that I really like Henry; he's very relatable and human. I don't ever want to be as extreme as Edward; I'd say I'm somewhere in the middle of the two. But if I had to hang out with one or the other, I'd probably feel a lot safer with Henry. TVGuide.com: How do you play the two characters differently?
In the first episode, at least, it's pretty clear which character I'm playing. But as we move on, you know, I've gotten to do a lot of fun things, like scenes where the other personality surfaces in the middle of a fight or something. It's been challenging — and fun. As we peel the layers off this onion and continue to delve deeper and deeper into these characters, I think I'm going to discover new things. There's really nothing I try to do to differentiate the look of each character; it's more in my emotional state. Hopefully it's more in my eyes. I can, however, tell you that Edward prefers to keep his suit jacket buttoned while Henry's is open.TVGuide.com: Looking back, are there one or two projects that stand out for you, ones that your're especially proud of?
I go way back to Pump Up the Volume
; I loved playing that character. And he kind of had a bit of a dual, split personality thing going on as well. I think My Own Worst Enemy
is reminiscent in some ways of that. I played a very shy high school kid who, by night, was this other personality that he only felt comfortable being in the privacy of his own room. I like the duality of that, the Clark Kent-Superman aspects of that particular film.TVGuide.com: Both Edward and Henry are surrounded by women who take care of them. Can you talk about working with the ladies in the cast?
Yeah. Well, Alfre Woodard [who plays Edward's boss, Mavis] is a phenomenally strong actress, the perfect matriarch for this. She carries herself with great authority. I'm glad that she's kind of the one holding the leash on Edward and Henry. Saffron Burrows couldn't be better as Henry's therapist. She's intelligent and sharp, and I think emotionally a very strongly developed character. And Mädchen Amick [who plays Henry's wife, Angie] is just full of life, and I think really represents the heart and soul of the story. She's what keeps Henry and Edward grounded.
TVGuide.com: Will Henry be pulled into Edward's world, or vice versa, or both?
Slater: I can tell you that there are going to be some very interesting things and scenarios that Angie is going to have to deal with.
TVGuide.com: There are certain elements of this show that remind me of Dollhouse, Joss Whedon's new show [which premieres on Fox in January]. Was there ever a moment where people thought, uh-oh, this sounds kind of familiar…
Slater: If you look at entertainment, it's always a version of something else. When I was filming Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, they were making another Robin Hood in another forest somewhere else in London. So there are always scenarios like that. This is a Jekyll-and-Hyde story. It takes a particular genre scenario and updates it.
Watch clips of My Own Worst Enemy in our Online Video Guide