Let’s be honest: Christian Slater’s TV track record hasn’t exactly been earth shattering. The secret agent thriller My Own Worst Enemy backfired, the cold case victim drama The Forgotten quickly was, and the security firm comedy Breaking In didn’t break any ratings records. But don’t write him off just yet. Mind Games, ABC’s darkly comic drama about brothers who use psychological manipulation to get results for their clients, may just be the perfect outlet for Slater’s snarky style. He plays a newly paroled ex-con who teams up with his bipolar genius brother (Steve Zahn) to play Jedi mind tricks on unsuspecting, usually corporate targets. Slater explains why the series, premiering tonight at 10/9c, was the right fit.

“We’ve had cases where we’ve had to stop companies from trying to genetically enhance cauliflower. I read the scripts and I’m like, ‘Wow this is an interesting subject to tackle.’ ”

 

What attracted you to Mind Games?
The writing was very special. It was different, unique. There aren’t companies who do this sort of thing. I think I was a little scared of it as well because the writing was certainly more intense than anything I’ve participated in before. So it was a little unnerving, but once I heard that Steve was involved I was so thrilled that he was playing the brother. I’ve been a huge fan, though we never met before, never worked together before. It was perfect. It’s fun—there are some dangerous situations and some pretty tricky stuff.

Examples?
We’ve had cases where we’ve had to stop companies from trying to genetically enhance cauliflower. I read the scripts and I’m like, ‘Wow this is an interesting subject to tackle.’ It’s real and we had to build a story around that and help a scientist blow the whistle on a company using these techniques.

What do you find intriguing about your character, Ross?
Ross certainly has his fair share of emotional disturbances. I mean, he’s been arrested. He’s conned people. He’s manipulated. He’s channeled a lot of his dysfunction in a very unhealthy, sort of sneaky way and now he’s trying to channel it in a way that actually can benefit people. He’s a character of questionable morality, but he looks at his brother and thinks, ‘Really? Are you sure you want to get involved with this?’ before they do.

Are there any manipulation tricks you want to try in real life?
Honestly, we’ve been so busy making the show there hasn’t been time. I haven’t had an opportunity to implement anything other than using my Rehearsal 2 app to learn lines!