Clip It: Each day, Jon Davis looks at the world of trailers, featurettes and clips and puts it all in perspective.
Christian Slater has always been cool. As a kid, I totally looked up to him. I first saw him in Heathers, where he blew me away as a teenage Jack Nicholson. Everyone had a Jack Nicholson imitation back then, but only Christian Slater embodied his rebellious spirit (and, yes, mimicking his nasally, wise ass voice). He was the smarmiest teenager in school cafeteria history.
When Pump Up the Volume came out, I was a high school student, and I didn't buy any of what the movie was selling. Even then, I could hear Hollywood execs saying, “This is what the kids, like, right? Cool disc jockeys!” But Christian Slater was charismatic enough to make it work.
But then came one of the coolest movies ever made, True Romance, solidifying Slater's image as one of the ultimate cool dudes because he's NOT cool. He's trying to be cool, which makes him even more cool because he's also vulnerable. As we all know, it's a Quentin Tarantino script, with Tony Scott directing. A creative marriage made in cool heaven. And that ending, with Patricia Arquette telling Christian Slater, “You're so cool, you're so cool, you're so cool.” Total male fantasy. And one I will totally own up to. I mean, there's a reason this one of my favorite movies ever.
Now I'm sure Christian Slater's has been in other roles since then, but none made an impression until Mr. Robot. We all suspected he was a figment of Elliot's imagination in the first season. But for most of the season, we didn't know for sure, and Elliot didn't know at all, so we could kind of kid ourselves that he was his own bad ass character. When Mr. Robot is unveiled as the TV Tyler Durden, it's cool. I mean, Fight Club is cool. For one season.
But now, it's hard to get over the fact that Christian Slater is not playing a person but just a compartmentalized part of Elliot's brain. And it's already getting old. I can see why they might think this could be interesting. One of my favorite characters is Richard Jenkins as the deceased dad in Six Feet Under. He would appear to each member of his family, and depending on the character, he'd have a different attitude, reflecting their disposition. He was morose around his wife, fun-loving around his daughter, cruel to his gay son, and thoughtful with his oldest son.
It was interesting. But Richard Jenkins was used sparingly. Unlike Mr. Robot, he wasn't second billing. The show wasn't named after him. He wasn't supposed to have a story arc. He wasn't meant to play an important role other than highlight underlying themes.
Christian Slater, as Clarence, killed the entire mafia and a faux Oliver Stone (Fauxliver Stone!) inside a hotel suite with feathers flying everywhere, now has to play a dude inside a man's brain. Like he's in a bad '90s sitcom. A really bad one. Herman's Head. And for how many seasons? Five? Seven? That doesn't seem fulfilling job for an actor. That's probably why he's listed as producer, so he can feel a little better about his job. He won't get a chance to direct if showrunner Sam Esmail retains his monopoly on that role. How can we expand this role? Is Dad Alderson AKA Mr. Robot not dead? Are we going to meet Dad Alderson's secret identical twin? Otherwise it's going to get quite tedious. And tedious is the opposite of cool.
Let me know how you feel. I'm here for you, the individual.