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Eric Roberts

Eric Roberts

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Also Known As: Eric Anthony Roberts Died:
Born: April 18, 1956 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Biloxi, Mississippi, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Proclaimed by Interview magazine as having so handsome a profile "it could be struck on a Roman coin," actor Eric Roberts was best-known for two things: 1) being a great actor who was prone to making bad choices, and 2) being Julia Roberts' big brother. Blessed with a combination of a matinee idol's good looks and a thespian's acting ability, Roberts' talents were all too often squandered working in less-than-worthy material. When given a substantive script to play with, however, Roberts could occasionally be downright superb, infusing his performances with an intense charisma rarely seen on screen. Famed for his magnetic intensity, Roberts dazzled critics with his Oscar-nominated turn as Paul Snider, the obsessive and controlling beau of doomed Playboy playmate Dorothy Stratton (Mariel Hemingway) in director Bob Fosse's tragic biopic, "Star 80" (1983). Although Roberts seemed well on his way to becoming a major movie star during the 1980s, the actor ultimately found himself eclipsed in Hollywood by the rise of his younger sister - future Academy Award-winning "Pretty Woman" (1990) star, Julia Roberts.Born in Biloxi, MS on April 18, 1956, Eric Anthony Roberts was the son of famed character actor...

Proclaimed by Interview magazine as having so handsome a profile "it could be struck on a Roman coin," actor Eric Roberts was best-known for two things: 1) being a great actor who was prone to making bad choices, and 2) being Julia Roberts' big brother. Blessed with a combination of a matinee idol's good looks and a thespian's acting ability, Roberts' talents were all too often squandered working in less-than-worthy material. When given a substantive script to play with, however, Roberts could occasionally be downright superb, infusing his performances with an intense charisma rarely seen on screen. Famed for his magnetic intensity, Roberts dazzled critics with his Oscar-nominated turn as Paul Snider, the obsessive and controlling beau of doomed Playboy playmate Dorothy Stratton (Mariel Hemingway) in director Bob Fosse's tragic biopic, "Star 80" (1983). Although Roberts seemed well on his way to becoming a major movie star during the 1980s, the actor ultimately found himself eclipsed in Hollywood by the rise of his younger sister - future Academy Award-winning "Pretty Woman" (1990) star, Julia Roberts.

Born in Biloxi, MS on April 18, 1956, Eric Anthony Roberts was the son of famed character actor Walter Roberts and his wife, acting teacher Betty Lou Motes. The oldest of three children, Roberts began his acting career at the tender age of five, working at the Actors and Writers Workshop, a local theater company founded by his father. Following his parents' divorce in 1972, Roberts went to live with his father in Atlanta, GA, while his two younger sisters, Julia and Lisa, went to live with their mother. After graduating from Grady High School in 1974, Roberts went to London where he studied drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Returning to the U.S. two years later, Roberts continued his studies at the American Academy in New York. In 1976, at the age of 20, Roberts made his New York stage debut in playwright Thomas Babe's, "Rebel Women."

After a brief stint on the daytime soap "Another World" (NBC, 1964-1999), Roberts made his auspicious feature debut in director Frank Pierson's "King of the Gypsies" (1978) - a star-studded tale about a splintering gypsy dynasty for which Roberts received a Golden Globe nomination. Roberts' burgeoning film career was temporarily sidelined after a serious 1980 car accident, but the actor made a full recovery a year later and rebounded with a gripping performance opposite Sissy Spacek in "Raggedy Man" (1981), a period romance directed by Michael Dinner. It was his next performance, however, as Paul Snider, the pathetic two-bit hustler turned cast-off boyfriend of Playmate-turned-movie starlet Dorothy Stratten in "Star 80" that really put him on Hollywood's radar. In addition to solidifying his rep as a young actor to watch, the role also earned Roberts his second Golden Globe nod.

Not afraid to go over the top when the role called for it, Roberts gave an explosive performance in "The Pope of Greenwich Village" (1984), a gritty urban drama co-starring Mickey Rourke and Daryl Hannah. Roberts approach to acting was not universally adored, however. In 1985, for instance, Roberts received starkly opposite receptions for two different movies he starred in that year. The first was the underappreciated "Coca-Cola Kid," an offbeat comedy filmed in Australia. Cast as a wonky marketing genius named Becker, Roberts gave a broad performance that some critics found off-putting. On the other hand, when given the right vehicle, Roberts could be electrifying, as in the case of "Runaway Train" (1985), a low-budget action drama released the same year. Cast as the accomplice-sidekick of a notorious escaped con (Jon Voight), Roberts struck a locomotivated chord with audiences and reviewers alike. For his efforts, Roberts would go on to receive his first Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

As the 1980s drew to a close, however, Roberts suffered the consequences of some questionable acting choices. Never one to turn his nose up at a project simply on the grounds of its budget - as "Runaway Train" demonstrated - Roberts signed on to a handful of cheap pix which he probably would have been better off ignoring. Among the worst of the worst was the ironically titled martial-arts themed drama "Best of the Best" (1989). Roberts would later candidly admit in a 1996 interview with Details, that his motive for signing on to such films was strictly financial in nature: "Up until the late '80s, I'd been so careful with my career that I only made a movie a year; sometimes every other year. But because of some bad investments, I was not a millionaire anymore. I decided the hell with it. So I started doing everything that was offered to me. I made a slew of B-movies, like 12 or 14, and some of them are pretty terrible."

Roberts' downward career slide continued well into the 1990s - at precisely the same time that his younger sister, Julia Roberts, was ascending in Hollywood. Already estranged since their youth - primarily as a result of being split by their parents' divorce - sister Julia's stellar rise only served to increase the rift between the talented siblings. Ironically enough, two more members of the Roberts clan subsequently entered the family business - Eric's other younger sister, Lisa Roberts, and his own daughter, Emma Roberts - who was, ironically very close to Aunt Julia, despite her father's estrangement to his younger sister. Due to Roberts' willingness to appear in just about anything during this period, the actor's reputation continued to take further unfortunate blows. Apart from starring in a "Best of the Best" sequel in 1992, Roberts' most notable work that decade was probably in television. In 1996, Roberts starred in the expensive Fox reboot of the venerable BBC sci-fi serial "Doctor Who," before turning in a spectacular performance as Perry Smith in the TV remake of "In Cold Blood" (1996). In the late 1990s, Roberts even headlined his own crime drama series, the short-lived "C-16" (ABC, 1998-1999).

With the dawn of the 2000's, Roberts' financial pinch seemed to have ended, leaving him free to take on more substantive material. Appreciating the relatively more stable environment of television, Roberts continued his efforts in that medium. In 2002, Roberts landed a three-year gig as a regular on the popular sitcom "Less Than Perfect" (ABC, 2002-06). The following year, Roberts appeared in a five-episode arc of the wildly successful live-action comic book series, "Heroes" (NBC, 2006- ). That same year, Roberts returned to the big screen, taking a supporting role in "D.O.A.: Dead or Alive" - the movie adaptation of the best selling video game series of the same name. Released in Australia in 2006, "Dead or Alive" had its stateside release in summer 2007.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Actors Anonymous (2016)
2.
 Compadres (2016)
4.
5.
6.
7.
 L.A. Slasher (2015)
8.
9.
 Maul Dogs (2015)
10.
 Wicked Within, A (2015)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised primarily in Atlanta, Georgia by his father following parents' divorce
1960:
Stage debut at age four as a mute clown
1963:
Began appearing on local TV in Atlanta at age seven
1964:
First stage speaking parts by age eight
1973:
Received classical training at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London
:
Studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC
:
Began acting in Off-Broadway productions
1976:
Played a recurring character on the NBC daytime soap opera, "Another World"
1976:
Professional acting debut in "Rebel Women" at Public Theatre, New York
1978:
Film acting debut in "King of the Gypsies"
:
Suffered a serious accident in a Jeep and took a hiatus from acting
1983:
Portrayed Playboy playmate, Dorothy Stratten's husband in Bob Fosse's "Star 80"
1983:
TV-movie debut, an "American Playhouse" adaptation of Nathanael West's "Miss Lonelyhearts"
1986:
Acted with younger sister Julia Roberts in "Blood Red" (released in 1989)
1988:
Broadway debut, Lanford Wilson's "Burn This"; replaced John Malkovich
1996:
Starred in "It's My Party"
1996:
Played the villain in Fox TV-movie "Dr. Who"
1996:
Cast in the TV remake of "In Cold Blood"
1997:
TV series debut as regular, "C16: FBI"
2000:
Had memorable role as a gangster in the CBS drama "Falcone"
2001:
Played a corrupt police captain in the A&E movie "Walking Shadow"
2006:
Cast in the coming-of-age drama "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"
2007:
Joined the cast of NBC's "Heroes" as Thompson, an associate of Mr. Bennet
2008:
Cast as Sal Maroni, an organized crime boss in the Batman sequel, "The Dark Knight"
2010:
Co-starred with Sylvester Stallone in "The Expendables," an 80s-style action adventure about a group of mercenaries who attempt to overthrow a South American dictator; film featured a Who's Who of action stars including Bruce Willis, Jet Li, and Arnold Schwarzenegger
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art: London , England - 1973 - 1974
American Academy of Dramatic Arts: - 1974 - 1975

Notes

Many gossip columns have noted the estrangement between Eric and his younger sister, Julia Roberts, said to be due to Julia's annoyance that Eric discussed their family background in interviews. In an interview with New York's Daily News, March 24, 1996, Roberts confirmed the tension and the reasons for it, but added, "I love her very much and go to all her movies."

In PR for "Nobody's Fool" (1986) Roberts states that "I stuttered when I was young, but in grade school I learned it would disappear whenever I memorized a line or passage."

"In the past 10 years, I've made about 30 bad movies. They were all box office bombs." --Eric Roberts in Daily News, March 24, 1996.

"Up until the late 80s, I'd been so careful with my career that I only made a movie a year, sometimes every other year. But because of some bad investments, I was not a millionaire anymore. I decided the hell with it. So I started doing everything that was offered to me. I made a slew of B-movies, like 12 or 14, and some of them are pretty terrible." --Eric Roberts to Details, April 1996.

"I was an abused child. It wasn't sexual abuse and it wasn't by a stranger. A family member used to beat me until I couldn't walk." --Eric Roberts in Daily News March 24, 1996.

In 2001, Roberts revealed the family member was his mother.

"It was only after the birth of Emma that I began to realize I wasn't the only person on the planet. I really want to be a good father and I get a lot of help from my daughter. I was visiting her yesterday and I said, 'Okay, honey, I have to go now.' And she ran in front of the door and said 'Daddy, you can go when I say it's okay.' And I went right back and sat down." --Eric Roberts in Daily News, March 24, 1996.

"['It's My Party'] is one of the three or four best movies I've ever been in--and the best movie I've been in for quite some time. The first time I saw it I cried for the last 20 minutes--and I've never cried at my own movies. I'm sobbing and I'm really embarrassed, because if anyone sees me crying at my own movie, I'll feel foolish. The lights come on, and the 12 people in the room are all crying. So I was very happy to be one of them. That last half hour works on every level." --Eric Roberts quoted in The Advocate, February 6, 1996.

"Eric has the ability to play a negative character, but he does so with such charm that you are interested in every movie he makes." --Ken Kaufman, executive producer of "The Lost Capone", a TV-movie Roberts made for TNT in 1990.

"I don't want to be a producer. I don't want to be a director. I'm an actor and I only want to be that." --Eric Roberts.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Sandy Dennis. Actor. Had long relationship in the 1980s.
companion:
Kelly Cunningham. Roberts sued to removed Cunningham from his home in October 1991; mother of Roberts' daughter Emma.
wife:
Eliza Garrett. Actor, casting director. Co-starred in the feature "Love Is a Gun"; mother is writer-producer-director Lila Garrett.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Walter Roberts. Actor, writer. Founded Actors and Writers Workshop, Atlanta, 1963; divorced Roberts' mother in 1972; Eric lived with his father; died c. 1977 of cancer.
mother:
Betty Lou Motes. Acting teacher. Divorced from Roberts' father in 1972; retained custody of Lisa and Julie while Eric lived with father.
sister:
Julia Roberts. Actor. Younger.
sister:
Lisa Roberts. Actor. Younger.
daughter:
Emma E Roberts. Actor. Born February 10, 1991; mother, Kelly Cunningham; made feature film debut in "Blow" (2001).
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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