BURBANK, Calif. -- Christian Slater remains calm during his staring contest with a menacing dog.
While filming a scene for his new ABC crime drama, "the forgotten," the 40-year-old actor locks his eyes on a barky Rottweiler while his character, former detective Alex Donovan, questions the dog's owner.
Later, during a break in filming, Slater says the acting pooch was a total pro.
"It's actually really nice when the dog shows up and he's ready and prepared, and he definitely hit his cues and knew his lines," Slater jokes. "He was perfect. He gave me a lot to work with. It's like a tennis match, being an actor, and you're only as good as the people you're playing opposite against, and today I have to really take my hat off to this dog."
Slater was drawn to "the forgotten" because of executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of "Without a Trace," "Cold Case" and the "CSI" franchise. However, it was the show's team of Average Joes and Janes who solve crimes involving John and Jane Does that piqued Slater's interest.
"This was kind of an interesting angle by making these people not necessarily experts," Slater says. "I mean, they really are people like you and me. They're not a 'CSI' team, for example. They really are just human beings. These are real people willing to do something in a volunteer type of fashion that, I think, at the end of the day, is very, very noble."
Since "the forgotten" debuted last month, CBS' political drama "The Good Wife" has been taking a big bite out of the Tuesday-night audience. It's a foe Slater knows all too well. His first TV series, last season's NBC spy thriller "My Own Worst Enemy," struggled to find an audience early on.
Much like his on-camera canine encounter, Slater remains cool.
"You don't know," he says. "Every time, it's a gamble. You roll the dice. You take your chances. You work with the best possible people. You try and stack the deck, I guess, in the best way you possibly can for as many people as possible to see it. At the end of the day, you've got to remember, there's so many elements that are out of your control."