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Christian Slater on Dodging Bullets

The star of "Bullet to the Head" tells us about how he dodged a bullet—on screen and off—and turned his life around.

You need not look further than the trailer to know that things don’t end very well for Christian Slater’s character in Bullet to the Head. When you’re tied to a chair, staring down the barrel of Sylvester Stallone’s gun, they rarely do. It’s not the first time Slater’s faced a grim fate. Luckily, he realized in time that your hands are never truly tied.

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MF: What was it like shooting Bullet to the Head?

CS: It was great. Although, I don’t want to mislead anybody and have them think I’m in the movie a great deal. It’s called Bullet to the Head, and I may be one of the guys who gets the bullet to the head.

Was working with Sylvester Stallone what you expected?

You know, it was tricky at times, because I was handcuffed to a chair, and I was getting punched in the face repeatedly by him, which, in a way, growing up and being a kid in the ’70s, wasn’t exactly the kind of scene I thought I’d end up doing with Sly. But at the same time it was like, here’s my moment with Rocky Balboa.

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You’ve played the bad-boy type a lot—on and off screen. Is it hard to keep the two separate?

The business is all make-believe, and a lot of it’s just so based in illusion that I guess I prefer living in reality today. Actors sometimes immerse themselves into it so deeply that the line between who they are and their character can become blurred. For me, I think it’s just about getting clearer on my whole life and who I am in order to make it possible for me to play whatever character is presented to me at a particular time.

You battled with addiction for a while. How did you win that fight?

There’s no real fight. You just get to a point where you’ve experimented, tested the boundaries, and f-ked up in every way imaginable. I realized clearly at some point: whatever it was between me and drugs and alcohol—that combination didn’t mix. So, the fight ends up not being a fight anymore, and hopefully, with enough experience behind you, sanity can be restored and you have the chance of actually having a healthy and productive life.

Did fitness play a role in kicking those bad habits?

Oh, God, yeah. Certainly. When you set something aside, it’s always best to replace it with something else. Hopefully, you end up replacing it with something healthier and something that is more sustainable. When you start sleeping right, you don’t wake up with a hangover anymore, you get a trainer, you start working out, you start eating right, and you start taking care of yourself, your whole perception on everything is going to change.

Any parting words of wisdom?

Just stay fit, eat right, and don’t do stupid shit.

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