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Eric Roberts Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (31) | Personal Quotes (20)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 18 April 1956Biloxi, Mississippi, USA
Birth NameEric Anthony Roberts
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

One of Hollywood's edgier, more intriguing characters running around and about for decades, Eric Anthony Roberts started life in Biloxi, Mississippi. He is the son of Betty Lou (Bredemus) and Walter Grady Roberts, one-time actors and playwrights. His siblings are actors Lisa Roberts Gillan and Julia Roberts, and he grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He began his acting career at age 5 in a local theater company called the "Actors and Writers Workshop", founded by his late father. After his schooling at Grady High, he studied drama at age 17 in London for two years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, then returned to the States and continued his studies at the American Academy in New York. He made his NY stage debut in "Rebel Women" in 1976 at age 20 and appeared in regional productions, once playing the newspaper boy in a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" starring Shirley Knight and Glenn Close.

After appearing in such daytime soaps as Another World (1964) and How to Survive a Marriage (1974), his career began to shift fast forward when he copped a leading role in a major film. In King of the Gypsies (1978), based on Peter Maas' best-seller about a fracturing dynasty of New York City gypsies, he made his debut alongside an intimidating roster of stars including Judd Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, Shelley Winters and Sterling Hayden. Young Eric held his own expertly (winning a Golden Globe nomination) while his burning intensity and brooding charm marked sure signs of star potential. After this, he won the lead opposite Milo O'Shea in the 1980 stage production of "Mass Appeal". He suffered serious injuries in a car accident during his nascent film career but lost no fans by the time he returned to co-star with Sissy Spacek as a small-town stranger in Raggedy Man (1981). It was, however, his stark and frightening portrayal of two-bit hustler Paul Snider, the cast-off boyfriend who slays Playmate-turned-movie starlet Dorothy Stratten (played by Mariel Hemingway) in Star 80 (1983) that really put him on the movie map and earned him a second Golden Globe nomination. A wide range of fascinating, whacked-out roles were immediately offered to him on a silver plate. He played another dangerous streetwise hustler type in The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984) opposite fellow rebel Mickey Rourke; a cocky soda pop sales exec in the Australian comedy The Coca-Cola Kid (1985); appeared with more charm and restraint opposite Rosanna Arquette in the offbeat romantic comedy Nobody's Fool (1986) and topped his prolific period off with an Academy Award nomination as a young prison escapee hiding out with Jon Voight aboard an out-of-control train in the ultra-violent, character-driven action adventure Runaway Train (1985). Good things continued to happen when he was a replacement lead in the original run of "Burn This" and won a Theatre World Award for his 1988 Broadway debut.

A risky, no-holds-barred actor, he was often guilty of overacting if given half the chance. His film career began to slide in the late 1980s, appearing in more quantity than quality pictures. A series of missteps led to unheralded appearances in such bombs as the karate-themed Best of the Best (1989); the NY urban thriller The Ambulance (1990); the action western Blood Red (1989), which took three years to release and is the only film Eric and his sister Julia Roberts appeared in together; and Rude Awakening (1989) when he filled in as a burned-out hippie opposite a Chong-less Cheech Marin. More under appreciated "B" filming came with the 1990s (Freefall (1994), Sensation (1994), The Nature of the Beast (1995), etc.), while also chewing the scenery with a number of mobster types in TV-movies, including one as "Al Capone". He soon began appearing as flashy secondary villains and creepies that showcased other stars instead, such as Final Analysis (1992) starring Richard Gere, Heaven's Prisoners (1996) top lining Alec Baldwin, and The Dark Knight (2008), part of the "Batman" series with Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger.

Eric's undeniable, unconventional talent would occasionally mesh with the perfect role. At the Sundance Film Festival in 1996, he received critical applause for his starring role as a man dying of AIDS in the uplifting and emotional film It's My Party (1996) and earned more honors as a writer marked for murder in the mob-themed story La Cucaracha (1998). He was also perfectly cast as one of the cold-blooded killers in the Emmy-nominated TV adaptation of Truman Capote's chiller In Cold Blood (1996). Eric continued to appear sporadically on TV in such dramatic series as Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001), while sometimes showing a fun side as well in comedy (The King of Queens (1998)). His own series work included Less Than Perfect (2002) and, more recently, and in the cult program Heroes (2006) where promise for a longer participation ended with his character's death.

Recovered from a long-standing cocaine problem, Eric wed, for the first time, actress/writer Eliza Roberts (nee Garrett). They have appeared in such films as Killer Weekend (2004) and Final Approach (2005). His daughter from a former relationship, Emma Roberts, is a newly popular and fast-rising "tween" actress from the series Unfabulous (2004) and has played youthful super-sleuth Nancy Drew (2007) on film. Eric's unpredictable, volatile nature which works so mesmerizing on screen has also led to troubling times off camera; his relationship with younger sis Julia Roberts has been seriously strained for quite some time.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Eliza Roberts (16 August 1992 - present)

Trade Mark (2)

Frequently plays villains
Gravelly smoke burnished voice

Trivia (31)

Older brother of Julia Roberts and Lisa Roberts Gillan.
Before he became a movie star, he appeared in at least two soap operas. Another World (1964) and How to Survive a Marriage (1974).
He was seriously injured in a car accident and spent three days in a coma.
Father of Emma Roberts, with Kelly Cunningham.
Brother-in-law of Tony Gillan and Daniel Moder.
Step-father of Keaton Simons and Morgan Simons
Appeared with actor Clarence Williams III in Ja Rule music video "Down ass chick".
Attended Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia.
His left hand ring finger is permanently disfigured, as a result of a 1980s car accident.
In Doctor Who (1996), he became the sixth actor to portray the Master. The evil character had previously been played in the series Doctor Who (1963) by Roger Delgado from 1971 until 1973, Peter Pratt in 1976, Geoffrey Beevers in 1981 and Anthony Ainley from 1981 until 1989. In the 1996 TV movie, the Master was played briefly by Gordon Tipple, then by Eric Roberts while in a human body.
Was chosen to act in Royal Kill (2009) when the Wrestling Choreographer, Ranjan Chhibber, a big "Doctor Who" fan, suggested to the director Roberts be hired because he loved his performance as "The Master" in the "Doctor Who" made-for-TV movie on Fox.
Has a niece named Hazel Moder (aka Hazel Patricia Moder) and nephews Phinnaeus Moder (aka Phinnaeus Walter Moder) and Henry Daniel Moder.
Some of Eric Roberts' boxing moves were once choreographed by actor Danny Trejo.
Was listed as a potential nominee on the 2008 Razzie Award nominating ballot. He was suggested in the Worst Supporting Actor category for his performance in the film DOA: Dead or Alive (2006), he failed to receive a nomination however.
Made just one movie - Blood Red (1989) - with sister Julia Roberts.
After Roger Delgado, Peter Pratt, Geoffrey Beevers, Anthony Ainley and Gordon Tipple, he is the sixth actor to play the Master, the Doctor's greatest enemy. He played the role in Doctor Who (1996). He was succeeded in the role by Sir Derek Jacobi and John Simm.
As a child he was inspired to become an actor after watching Robert Donat's performance in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939).
Was attached to co-star in Dolph Lundgren's Command Performance (2009).
Was trained in Tae Kwon Do and Jujitsu for a short time.
To date he has filmed movies in over 17 countries (2010).
Good friends with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Lives in Los Angeles, California.
Son-in-law of David Rayfiel and Lila Garrett.
Eric and his stepson Keaton Simons have had no contact with each other since 1994. Keaton cited that the reason why he never had any contact with Eric or his mother was because of Eric's drug abuse problems.
He is the only non-British actor to play The Master, the Doctor's greatest enemy in ''Doctor Who''.
The only actor to play a villain in both the Batman and Doctor Who franchises.
Has worked with Mickey Rourke in three films: they co-starred in 1984's The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), in 2002's Spun (2002), Roberts had a glorified cameo in Rourke's film and in 2010's The Expendables (2010), Rourke had more of a glorified cameo to Roberts' bad-guy role, but they had no scenes together in this one.
He played the villain in the music video for Mr. Brightside by The Killers.
Quit drinking alcohol in 1995.
Nominated for "Best Supporting Actor" in Abstraction (2013) at the 2013 Action On Film International Film Festival.
He is the only Oscar-nominated actor to play the role of The Master in 'Doctor Who'.

Personal Quotes (20)

I do like the idea of putting something comical into an intense drama, and being intense in absurd circumstances within a comedy.
My life is going to kill me. We all get angry when we realize that. But the anger is fear.
I've had people say to me, "It's such a shame what happened to your career." I just smile and say I've had a blast. I really have.
I had a perfect track record up to Rude Awakening (1989). Then the track record goes bumpy, then it goes bad and I'm ruining myself with B movies. I've done a lot of shit. But I have reinstated myself.
This past 15 years, I made 120 movies, and I probably haven't seen 60 of them. But I've had a great time. I also don't have to die for my work anymore. I have never been more miserable or unhappy as when I shot Star 80 (1983) - as a person, just because of where I had to go every day. [2008]
I'm not going to be the next thing. I don't have hope, I just have patience. [2008]
[on working with Sterling Hayden on King of the Gypsies (1978)] It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life because it became a relationship. We became very good friends, and we stayed friends right up until his death. Sterling was just a winner as a human being. He loved you if you were whatever you were. And if you pretended to be whatever you were, he had nothing for you. I'd already been shooting on the film for about three weeks, and we went into night shoots in the fourth week. My first night working with him was his first day on the film. I'm in my trailer and I get a knock on the door and the second assistant director says, "Mr Hayden would like to meet you and talk to you about the scene tonight." I'm like, "Cool! I can't wait!" So I go over to his trailer and knock on the door, and I hear him say, "Come in, come in!" I open the door and - whoosh! - big cloud of hashish! He says, "Have a seat, young man!" I have a seat. He asks me if I want to get high. I say, "No, because I can't talk when I get high and I have to act tonight." He goes, "Okay, okay. So let's talk about what we're doing tonight! What are we shooting?" I said, "That would be scene 87, sir." He goes, "Oh I know the number. But what the fuck happens?" And it's a very pivotal scene. I've run away, and he comes and nabs me off the street and takes me home, blah, blah, blah. It's a big-deal scene. So I told him that and he goes, "How are you at improvisation, young man?" I said, "I'm okay with it." He said, "Okay, 'cause that's what we're doing tonight." So all our stuff together is all improv, and it's all extraordinary, because he was extraordinary.
[on Star 80 (1983)] I discovered what I thought was the core of his (Paul Snider) kind of energy, by my talking with people who liked, and also disliked, him. Also, through photographs - how he stood, whether his shoulders were up or down, and stuff like that. Small stuff, which I could see through pictures of when he was at the Playboy Mansion. I realized that he was wound very tightly, and he was very self-conscious, and he was very....from another era, almost. Once I got that, that was the core of his physicality, I just had to find his morality. And once I had that, I had this very pathetic man, and I popped him out there. I went to a screening at a regular movie theatre and I was on my way out and, of course, everybody knew who I was, because I didn't look that different in the movie, and somebody said, "God, what an awful man!" It was such an awful story that people got me confused with the character. It was a bomb in movie theaters because it was so dark and so real. Bob Fosse was one of the greatest filmmakers ever and he made everybody who watched the movie have to go through that experience, and it was hard. Obviously it was a big loss financially because it should've been a mega-hit, but it was ahead of its time. It has since become a cult classic so I am satisfied by that, but Bob Fosse never saw that. He died. And I love him like I love my life. He became my second father, and he was great to me. We had a great relationship, and we spent a lot of time on the road together, doing press, and we bonded.
[on The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)] The greatest acting experience of my life, as far as character work. I took every chance an actor could, and I think I made him work. I'm very proud of that piece. Mickey Rourke and I became lifelong friends. I love him. It was probably the most fun I've ever had playing a character... Yeah, they offered me that part. After Tennessee Williams died, I was in Hartford doing a production of The Glass Menagerie, playing Tom Wingfield, and I get this script called The Pope Of Greenwich Village, based on the book. I read it, and... my character was a tough guy. He's a not-too-smart, not-too-educated tough guy. A badass. You don't want to mess with him, because he wasn't very smart, and he might hit you. And I realize, "Hmm, that character has been portrayed like that in a thousand movies. I've done it five times already myself! I have to approach it differently." Since I was up there doing the play, I had lots of time to think about it, lots of time to read and re-read it, and I finally realized, "Ah, here's what I'll do! I'll play a mama's boy who wants to be a tough guy but isn't." So I used all the same dialogue. I didn't change any of the dialogue. I just changed how he dressed, how he looked, how he talked, and how he walked. And I permed my hair and lost 30 pounds, so I'd be a string-bean walking spaz attack. And the result was one of the most satisfying experiences of my career.
[on The Ambulance (1990)] That was... I put myself in Larry Cohen's hands for that, because I liked the script. It was kind of like The Whole Truth, actually, because I said, "Since this is kind of an action-comedy, I need you to guide me. And I'm gonna do what you tell me and how you tell me to do it, so if there are any mistakes, they're gonna be yours." And he goes, "Okay, here we go!" So he just told me what he wanted, where he wanted it, and how he wanted it, and we had a great time making that movie. That movie was a huge hit in France. It made a lot of money in France. It, uh, didn't do well in the U.S., though. Not until it had been out on DVD for about five years, at which point it became kind of a cult classic.
[on The Specialist (1994)] That was just pure, unadulterated fun. I got to play a badass, I got to work with Rod Steiger as my father, I got to work with Sylvester Stallone, and it was really cool. Sly says to me one day, "Hey, Eric, I realized we don't have a scene together in this!" I say, "Yeah." He says, "Okay, I'm gonna write a scene. How 'bout this? It's gonna be a scene about a knife. You're gonna put a knife to my eye." I said, "Cool, dude!" He wrote that scene overnight, and we shot it the next day, just out of the blue. It was just... I mean, who wouldn't want to have a scene written by Rocky with Rocky right there? And that's what happened. I was in heaven.
[2013, on The Dark Knight (2008)] That was a dream come true. I'm the only actor in that movie who's in a main part who had to audition. I auditioned for Chris Nolan, and then two months later I get a call. I thought I didn't get the part, 'cause it took two months to hear from him, but he calls me and tells me he wants me in his movie, and it was a dream come true. I got to work at Pinewood Studios, which I'd always wanted to go to, and we shot the exteriors in Chicago. It was just such a groovy experience. Gary Oldman and I are old, dear friends, and I love him dearly. He's one of my three favorite actors in this planet. I just love him.
[2013, on Best of the Best trilogy] That was maybe the most fun physically I've ever had making movies. It was like boys' camp. I got to go work out the body at the gym every morning, then you'd go do the goju and get ready for the moves of the day, and then you'd go to the set and shoot a karate movie. It ended up being a wonderful movie about triumph. And I'm very proud of that first film, Best of the Best (1989). It's a really good movie... The only thing I was really sad about was Best Of The Best 3 and 4. They're like home movies. They're really bad. We had a really good franchise going. I would've loved to have stayed with the kind of quality we had on the first film... and a little bit on the second film. I wish we could've stayed up there.
[2013, on Sharktopus (2010)] I was offered that script, and from the title alone, I said, "I'm not even gonna read it. Are you kidding?" And they said, "But you said you always wanted to work for this man (Roger Corman)!" And I said, "Yes, but I'm not gonna make something quite this bad!" And then he called me, and he made me an offer I couldn't refuse and, believe me, it was not money. He does not give money. Corman said to me, "How many friends do you have?" I said, "I dunno, half a dozen." "How many family members do you got?" "I don't know, 10." "Okay, they can all bring a friend, and they can all stay in Puerto Vallarta while you make this movie for a month. Everybody's free while you're down there working." So I brought everybody I ever met, everybody I've ever been related to, and we all had a great time in Puerto Vallarta while I made a bad movie. That's the long and short of it.
[on Star 80 (1983)] That was the most difficult experience of my acting life. I went out for that part because Bob Fosse and Hal Ashby were my idols, so I really went after that because I wanted to work with Bob Fosse. And after half a dozen auditions, he says to me, "Will you walk around the room for me?" So I walked around the room. I said, "What's up with that?" He said, "I was told you were a cripple." I said, "Who would've told you that?" He goes, "Well, I heard that's why you dropped out of the Broadway production of Mass Appeal you were doing." I said, "No, I dropped out because of artistic differences." He said, "Oh, well, they're saying you're a cripple. Since you're not, though, you wanna play this part?" "Yeah, dude!" So after six auditions and a walk around the room to apparently prove I could walk, he gave me that part. And it was probably the hardest, most intense, most emotional, most strenuous, most satisfying experience of my life.
Heaven's Prisoners (1996) was probably one of the best location shoots I've ever had because it was down in New Orleans, and we were down there for probably 10 or 12 weeks, and it was just a blast. Oh, and one little story that people might like: It was my first night there, I wasn't shooting but I was on the set to say hello to Phil Joanou, our director. Alec (Baldwin) had this scene where he had to jump into the water-pond, really-and swim across it. They're getting ready, they're all set up, Phil says, "Here we go! Alec, you ready?" "Yeah!" And suddenly alligator eyes appear on the water. Everybody freezes. "There's a gator! Oh, my God!" Alec says, "It's cool. I'm going in." The stuntman goes, "You're not going in!" Alec says, "Roll the camera!" They roll the camera, Alec jumps in, crosses the pond, gets out. "Okay, we got the shot?" And we moved on. I couldn't believe it. He's got the balls of a dinosaur, dude. It was wild. True story! He really did that. It was cool!
[2013, on Entourage (2004)] Well, you know, I played myself only by name. That's hardly me. And I've never sold mushrooms. But how I got on Entourage is a great story. I loved that show, and I watched that show, and after about the fourth time I heard them say my name on the show, I called my lawyer, who handles all those writers, and I said, "If they're gonna talk about me all the time, have them write me in the show!" And he called back in five minutes and said, "They want you on the show! But there's one hitch." "What?" "Will you sell mushrooms?" "That's not a hitch! I'll sell mushrooms!" So that's how it came about.
[on It's My Party (1996)] The performance was heralded, which was certainly great, but the movie wasn't a big-enough hit for my tastes. I thought It's My Party was what Philadelphia (1993) should've been. Now, that's not positive-sounding, I realize, and I'm not knocking down Philadelphia. I am, however, saying that It's My Party is better than Philadelphia, in that... it doesn't deal with the issue in a drastic visual way, like with sores on my skin. It deals with the issue emotionally, and it deals with it in a way that everyone can relate to and everybody can understand. You know, we're only here once, and we're only here for a minute, and if you have to go, you might as well celebrate it. I was so proud to be in that movie because of all the great actors in the cast. I mean, Lee Grant playing my mother? Oh, my God, she was perfect. As an actor, for me to have her play my mother, that was an event. And for her to be brilliant playing my mother, it was a gift. And I will love her 'til my last breath.
[2013, on making Cecil B. DeMented (2000)] Well, that was just having fun as an actor. That's all that was... You know, it was not weird, weirdly enough. It was very cut and dried, very 9 to 5 and "let's go to work and knock it out." It was not very odd or peculiar or even particularly unique. It was a day's work, but it was a blast.
[2013, on Less Than Perfect (2002)] You know, I was not a big fan of my work in that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not humble. I'm probably one of my three biggest fans on the planet. But I didn't like me in that. I didn't think I was very good in that kind of comedy. In fact, we had a read-through of the new scripts on Monday mornings, and I walked in there one Monday morning after having a thought. I said, "You know, I had a thought over the weekend: Patrick Warburton should play my part." And they brought in Patrick the next week! And he basically replaced me, so... I don't think anybody disagreed with me that I was not up to my usual standards in my portrayal of that role. But I've got to say, I met Sherri Shepherd, who I love dearly, and Andy Dick is one of my true friends. I love him with all of my heart.

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