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Eric Roberts

Eric Roberts

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Actor Eric Roberts, brother of actress Julia Roberts and father of actress Emma Roberts, is an Academy Award nominee and recently appeared in The Dark Knight.


Actor Eric Roberts was born on April 18, 1956, in Biloxi, Mississippi. His parents ran an acting and writing school out of their home, which influenced Roberts and his sisters Lisa and Julia Roberts to all become actors. Roberts' first big break came in 1976, when he was cast as Ted Bancroft on the soap opera Another World. He was later nominated for an Oscar for Runaway Train and more recently appeared in The Dark Knight and The Expendables.

Early Life

Eric Roberts was born on April 18, 1956, in Biloxi, Mississippi, and was raised in Atlanta. He grew up immersed in the theater scene and was surrounded by actors. His mother and father ran a successful acting and writing school out of their home. His parents' livelihood had a great effect on him and his sisters, Julia and Lisa; all three would go on to become actors.

Roberts developed a stutter as a child and found that the only time he could speak completely fluidly was when he memorized speeches and later delivered them. As a result, Roberts began participating in his parents' classes from a young age as a form of speech therapy.

Roberts' first acting role came when he was a child. He was cast in a locally produced Sunday morning television show entitled The Little Pioneers. While Roberts was very close with his father, his parents divorced when he was a little boy and he subsequently became estranged from his mother because he disliked her new husband. His difficult childhood led him into substance abuse at a young age.

Despite his difficult upbringing, Roberts continued to pursue acting. As a teenager he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and later at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Commercial Success

Roberts' first big break came in 1976, when he was cast as Ted Bancroft on the soap opera Another World. He did not enjoy the job and turned to the stage instead, working off-Broadway. Soon after, Roberts was discovered by agent Bill Treusch, who helped the struggling actor land his first film role. Roberts appeared in the cult favorite King of the Gypsies, for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination, and then opposite Sissy Spacek in the 1981 film Raggedy Man.

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In June 1981 Roberts was involved in a serious car accident, which left him comatose for three days with a bruised brain, broken bones and much facial trauma.

As a result of his facial trauma there was a change in both Roberts' looks and subsequently the roles he was offered. He found himself playing villains, which led to a breakout performance in Bob Fosse's Star 80. By 1985 he was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Buck McGeehy in Runaway Train opposite Jon Voight.

However, by the late 1980s Roberts' career began to consist of B-movies and direct-to-video releases. Roberts made a comeback in 1996, around the time when he gave up drugs, with the film It's My Party. The versatile actor has appeared in numerous films and television series. He has also earned small supporting parts in large blockbusters such as The Dark Knight and The Expendables.

Personal Life

In 1987 Roberts was arrested for harassing a woman and striking a police officer, both while under the influence of drugs. He pleaded guilty to harassment, and the other charges were later dropped.

Roberts engaged in a public relationship, breakup and custody battle with girlfriend Kelly Cunningham in the early 1990s. The actor lost custody of their daughter, Emma. Emma Roberts would go on to become an actress.

Roberts' sister and fellow actor, Julia Roberts, sided with Cunningham during the custody battle, tearing apart her relationship with Eric. The once close siblings became estranged from each other. It was not until 2004, with the birth of Julia's twins, that the siblings reconciled their differences and began mending their relationship.

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