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Feature: Primetime

My Own Worst Enemy

Christian Slater in My Own Worst Enemy

Christian Slater stars as two men with a single body to share between them, and lives as family man and secret agent to maintain, in this new series

With the catchy tagline, ‘Who can you trust when you can’t trust yourself,’ NBC’s new drama My Own Worst Enemy stars Christian Slater as both Henry Spivey and Edward Albright – polar opposites that share one thing in common – a body.

Creator and Executive Producer, Jason Smilovic, explains, “Edward [an operative who works for the Janus Headquarters] was a soldier who experienced a terrible trauma in his life, and not knowing how to get beyond that trauma he enlisted for a program [at Janus] where when he wasn’t in use, he wouldn’t be conscious and somebody else would be living his life for him.”

That ‘somebody else’ is Henry Spivey, a middle-class efficiency expert living a humdrum life in the suburbs with is wife, Angie, their two kids and a dog. But when the carefully constructed wall between Henry and Edward breaks down, they are thrust into unfamiliar territory where each man is dangerously out of his element.

For Christian Slater, it is a “dream job. I was a little nervous about it at the get-go because I didn’t know how I was going to make the transitions [between the characters] but the way they scheduled it I thought was very clever in that I play Henry on certain days, Edward on other days. It makes it very challenging, fun and exciting. With the physicality of the two characters, Edward is certainly a lot more confident than Henry is. Edward is left-handed, Henry is right-handed. So there are those little details that we’re definitely putting into the show.”

Slater is assisted in making each character distinctive by director David Semel, as Smilovic acknowledges. “He’s done an incredible job of creating a visual lexicon so that both of these characters see the world through very different points of view, and those points of view manifest in a way that is relative to their own personal experiences. We also have a bunch of other tricks that we use in terms of trying to establish who we are looking at. For instance, the dog loves Henry, but hates Edward. When we’re watching Henry/Edward sleep, we don’t know who we’re looking at until the dog starts growling and runs away, then we know it’s Edward.”

. “There are times when we want to be very definitive about letting the audience know which world you’re in,” Semel adds, “but also there are circumstances where not knowing [which character it is] actually makes the show more enjoyable.”

Despite the series’ title, Smilovic insists the characters are not trying to kill each other. “He is figuratively his own worst enemy, as they are both vying for supremacy within the same body. They are locked into a game with one another where one person wins and one person loses on certain fronts. So if Edward wants to have a life and he wants to go off somewhere, he’s obviously anchored to a certain reality because of Henry. So they do come to cross purposes, and that’s where the drama is.”

by Judy Sloane

There's much, much more in
TV Zone #231

Photo © NBC Universal, Inc
Feature © Visual Imagination 2008. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #231
August 2008
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