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After Heathers, Slater had offers to play more troubled youths, including as a rebellious teen in Pump Up the Volume (1990) and a wild gunman in Young Guns II (1990), in which Slater acted alongside Emilio Estevez and Kiefer Sutherland.
In 1991, Slater was cast as Will Scarlett in the Hollywood big budget production of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves alongside Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman.
His career improved with his role in The Name of the Rose (1986) alongside Sean Connery.
Slater played Connery's apprentice monk while they investigated a series of murders at a Benedictine abbey.
"Wonko the Sane" in BBC Radio 4's production of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Slater starred in the television series My Own Worst Enemy in 2008 and The Forgotten in 2009.
Heathers is a dark comedy directed by Michael Lehmann. The film brought director Michael Lehmann and producer Denise Di Novi the 1990 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.
Daniel Waters also gained recognition for his screenplay, which won a 1990 Edgar Award.
In 2006, it was ranked #5 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the "50 Best High School Movies" and in 2008, it was ranked #412 on Empire's list of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". serves Heather a liquid he claims is a hangover cure but is actually drain cleaner, killing her. The school and community look on Heather's apparent suicide as a tragic decision made by a popular but troubled teenager. plants "gay" materials beside the boys, and a suicide note stating the two were lovers participating in a suicide pact. Martha Dunnstock, an obese, regularly bullied student known as "Martha Dumptruck", pins a suicide note to her chest and walks into traffic. follows her outside with a bomb strapped to his chest, offers what amounts to a personal eulogy as Veronica looks on, and detonates the bomb.Slater followed this by playing Junior Tucker in Francis Ford Coppola's Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), Gleaming the Cube (1989) and Beyond the Stars (1989). Heathers was billed as the teen film of 1989, which had turned into a hit musical a year later.Slater's career rose to new heights when he played the dark character J. Slater beat out many other actors such as Brad Pitt for the part and his performance drew comparison with a young Jack Nicholson.The same year he also starred in the comedy Very Bad Things opposite Cameron Diaz.Since 2000 Slater has mixed TV work with leading roles in mainly lower budget films along with supporting roles in a few mainstream productions, appearing in the successful The West Wing and Alias TV productions, but also being part of Hollywood films, including Bobby and 3000 Miles to Graceland.
The film was a commercial success, taking US$390 million worldwide, and Slater became one of the major A-list stars of the 1990s. In 1993, Slater tried to expand his film genre, playing opposite Marisa Tomei in Untamed Heart and playing Clarence Worley in the Quentin Tarantino-penned cult classic True Romance, which received many rave reviews.