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San Francisco Chronicle & Examiner Parade March 1996

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San Francisco Chronicle & Examiner Parade March 1996

Gail Buchalter

"I don't think of myself as offbeat and weird. As a kid, I saw myself as the type of guy who would run into a burning building to save the baby. My father told me to do it in movies -- not in real life, where it's too dangerous.

I was a shy, quiet kid. I was happiest playing by myself with my toys, rather than hanging around people. But then the show-biz thing happened and that opened me up a bit. I made the choice to act on my own. We toured for nine months, and it drilled into my head that I was going to do this or die. There was no escape (wicked grin). I was lucky, I was never a child star. Instead, I gained a lot of professional experience and learned how to deal with people. I slowly crept into films like Heathers (1989) and Pump Up the Volume (1990 -- Christian's favorite film).

The women that I have worked with and dated have all been unique. (smiling). They were beautiful and intelligent. Each embodied everything I have ever desired in a woman. It's almost impossible to avoid feelings of closeness, especially when you're on location. It's like fantasyland -- sort of a wild ride -- then you get back to reality. But sometimes it lasts longer than the movie -- if not romantically, then as a friend.

Regarding directing the musical, The Laughter Epidemic, for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation:

I met Elisabeth Glaser (the late founder of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation) and thought she was a fantastic woman. It's so important to try and help these children. As I said, I've always wanted to be the guy who rushed in and saved the baby. I've stayed involved with raising money for Pediatric AIDS.

Regarding his car accident:

The telephone pole stopped me. Having an eye-opening experience like that can change your attitude about your whole life. I decided it was a little too precious to be tampering with. I was lucky enough to be stopped and smart enough to pay attention. Now I'm so used to not drinking, I don't think about it. I just know I feel so much better without it, and life is so much better. Things that interested me at 20 -- such as partying and drinking -- don't interest me today. I used to go out too much, and that became boring. Now I've been staying home too much. It's a question of finding that balance.

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