Eric Anthony Roberts is a popular American actor and the brother of the famous Hollywood star Julia Roberts. He is known for films such as ‘King of the Gypsies’, ‘Wolves of Wall Street,’ ‘Runaway Train,’ ‘Deadline,’ and ‘Sicilian Vampire.’ Roberts began his career with ‘Another World’, an American television soap opera that ran on the NBC network. In 1978, he acted in his debut movie ‘King of the Gypsies’ a drama film, where he played the lead role. The film, which was directed by Frank Pierson, turned out to be a huge hit, earning Roberts a nomination for the ‘Golden Globe Award’ for Best Motion Picture Acting Debut. His next major work was in the 1983 American film ‘Star 80’, which was directed by Bob Fosse. This film too was a success, and for his brilliant performance, Roberts won the ‘Boston Society of Film Critics Award’ for Best Actor. Later he appeared in ‘Runaway Train’ a drama thriller for which he received two award nominations. Roberts has also made a few appearances in the famous American police crime drama ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’ which had premiered on CBS network.
Childhood & Early Life
Eric Roberts was born in Biloxi in Mississippi in the United States on 18 April 1956. His parents were Walter Grady Roberts and Betty Lou Bredemus. They co-founded the Atlanta Actors and Writers Workshop and also ran a children’s acting school which was situated in Decatur, Georgia. Eric is of English, Scottish, Welsh, German and Irish descent.
Roberts was raised with his two sisters, Julia Roberts and Lisa Roberts Gilan, both of who grew up to be successful actresses. Because of their parents, the children were exposed to the theatre scene early on and grew up surrounded by actors, which had a great effect on them.
As a child, Eric used to stutter, though he spoke well when he memorized speeches and delivered them.
Eric started acting from an early age; he appeared in a local morning TV show named ‘The Little Pioneers’. His parents divorced in 1972, leading to a lot of problems in his life, which eventually even led him to substance abuse.
Despite all the difficulties, he pursued his acting goals. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and later at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
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Eric Roberts started appearing in the soap opera ‘Another World’ in 1976. Though the show was a success and earned him popularity, he did not enjoy the job.
Later he was discovered by agent Bill Treusch, who helped him a lot, eventually landing him his first film role in the movie ‘King of the Gypsies.’ The film which was directed by Frank Pierson, turned out to be a hit, and earned Roberts his first award nomination.
He appeared in a lead role in ‘Raggedy Man, a 1981 American drama. However, he had a car accident soon after, which left him not just with a bruised brain and broken bones, but also with injuries on his face which changed his looks to an extent.
The change in his looks also led to a change in the kind of roles he played. He started playing mostly villainous roles, one of which included his famous performance in the 1983 film ‘Star 80.’ The film earned him the ‘Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor’, as well as two other award nominations.
After its success, he appeared in several other films like ‘The Coca-Cola Kid’ (1985), ‘Nobody's Fool’ (1986), ‘Best of the Best’ (1989), ‘The Immortals’ (1995), ‘La Cucaracha’ (1998), and ‘Purgatory’ (1999).
Eric Roberts has appeared in numerous television programs as well such as ‘The Drew Carey Show’, ‘The Hunger’, ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’, ‘Less than Perfect’, and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine.’
He has also appeared in films such as ‘The Expendables’, a 2010 American action movie directed by Sylvester Stallone. The film, which was the first installment of ‘The Expendables film series’ also starred popular actors such as Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Steve Austin.
The film received mixed reviews. While the action scenes were appreciated, the lack of a good story was criticized. However, it turned out to be quite successful commercially, opening at number 1 at the US Box office. Two sequels ‘The Expendables 2’ and ‘The Expendables 3’ were released in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Eric Roberts appeared in the lead role in ‘Deadline’, a 2012 American mystery drama film. The story focused on the murder of an African American youth which went unsolved for a very long time. It also starred actors such as Steve Talley, Anna Felix, Lauren Jenkins, and J.D. Souther.
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His supporting role in the American legal drama TV series ‘Suits’ is his most recent significant work in television. The show, which started airing in 2011, has been quite successful, earning several award nominations. Roberts appeared as Charles Forstman in Seasons 4-5 in 2014-15.
'Star 80,' an American film about the brutal murder of a model, was one of the most important films in Eric Roberts’ career. Shot both in Vancouver, Canada, and Los Angeles, USA, the film was directed by Bob Fosse, and also starred actors such as Mariel Hemingway, Cliff Robertson, and Carrol Baker. Roberts’ amazing performance won him the ‘Boston Society of Film Critics Award’ for Best Actor.
His role in the 1985 American thriller drama ‘Runaway Train’ was another one of his significant works. Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, and starring actors such as Jon Voight, Rebecca De Mornay, and John P. Ryan in addition to Roberts, the story was about two escaped convicts and a female railroad worker who are stuck on a runaway train. Roberts’ performance was quite appreciated, and earned him a nomination for the Academy Award.
Awards & Achievements
Eric Roberts has received several awards such as the ‘Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor’, for his role in the film ‘Star 80’ in 1983, and ‘Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Television Series’ for his role in the American TV show ‘Less Than Perfect’ in 2002.
Personal Life & Legacy
Eric Roberts was in a relationship with Kelly Cunnigham in the early 1990s and had a daughter with her. The couple broke up later, which was followed by an ugly custody battle, in which Roberts lost. Their daughter Emma Roberts later became an actress as well.
His sister Julia Roberts sided with his girlfriend during the custody battle, which ruined the relationship between the siblings. However, in 2004, the siblings decided to mend their relationship.
In 1992, he married Eliza Garrett.
Roberts is also an avid supporter of animal rights and leads a vegan lifestyle.
He was arrested twice: first in 1987, for drug possession and then resisting arrest, and later in 1995, for physically abusing his wife Eliza Garrett. After this event, he announced that he would give up the use of drugs.