Christian Slater's favorite prop in Breaking In, a new action comedy series on Fox, is the Captain Kirk-Star Trek chair in his office. It serves as visual shorthand that his character, Oz, is without question the leader on this cockeyed expedition. "It's very much like Star Trek," Slater says of the show, which premieres at 8:30 p.m. CT Wednesday, April 6. Truth be told, Breaking In isn't the least bit like Trek. But it's a fun half-hour. It's about an unconventional security firm that specializes in finding cracks in its corporate clients' security systems. The idea is that if Contra Security can break in, so can hackers and thieves. Oz is the eccentric master of manipulation who's running the show and Slater is loving every minute of it. "It's a great gig," he says. "I'm now the boss, which is very interesting. To have been around long enough to get the opportunity to be the guy who can actually appropriately sit in the captain's chair is quite shocking. Plus, I get to wear shades and smoke a cigar and sit in the Kirk chair. Life is good."
Is it true that the Kirk chair prop came from your personal collection?
"A buddy of mine had gotten me that chair for a birthday present about a year ago, so it was really just sitting in my house and I really liked it and I thought this chair would represent who this Oz character is. He is definitely the captain of this particular ship. It does have a throne-like quality and it also has a little bit of a throwback-type quality. I'm a fairly eccentric character myself and the fact that the producers were open to hiring people and including a lot of their own personal eccentricities into the characters was thrilling."
Given that Contra Security can break in to just about anything, should the Smithsonian be concerned that the real Captain Kirk chair might be in jeopardy?
"Yes, well, as a matter of fact, as a way to do some research for this particular show, me and the gang all broke into the Smithsonian and stole the real one. The one they have at the Smithsonian is a replica now."
This is your third series in recent years. First there was My Own Worst Enemy, which didn't last very long. Last year, there was The Forgotten. What keeps you working in television these days?
"I like the consistency. I like the pace. With the first two experiences I had, I really did respond well to the schedule. It's a very, very fast-moving train. I don't like sitting around. I really like to get in there and do the job and get it done and feel good about it at the end of the day. That pretty much seems to be the vibe on all the sets that I've gotten to be a part of. And I kind of feel a little bit like Goldilocks. I mean, I tried out the one bed; it didn't fit. I tried out the other bed; it didn't fit. This bed here feels just right."
What are some of the things you most like about the character of Oz?
"I like the fact that he is an eight-moves-ahead kind of guy. He pretty much knows what the outcomes are going to be right from the get-go. I like that he's in charge. I like that he likes to have fun, that he doesn't really take things all that seriously. And I like that he's a very mysterious guy. There's definitely a lot more going on beneath the surface than he's revealing."
Given the high-tech security aspect of the show, are you a tech-loving guy in real life?
"I do love the tech stuff. I enjoy the iPad. I've got the iPhone. I've got a Mini Mac hooked up to my TV. I've got the Xbox. I've got the PlayStation. I've got the Wii. I'm insanely techie and I love to play all that stuff with my kids."
It has been more than 25 years since you made your film debut in The Legend of Billie Jean. How have you changed since those early days of your career?
"I've pretty much gone from a 'bad boy' to a 'dad boy.' Like, I'm going to LEGOLAND this week to check out the new Star Wars exhibit they have there. I'm not going just myself, of course. I'm taking my son."
Can you give viewers a good reason to give your show a try?
"Well, it's the greatest show ever made. You'd be crazy not to watch. There are two reasons right there."