Eric Roberts Interview: Legendary Actor Talks Starring Roles in "The Perfect Summer" and "Human Centipede 3"
Image attributed to Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actor) in the 1985 thriller Runaway Train and is a three-time Golden Globe nominee for King of the Gypsies, Star 80 and Runaway Train. Other film credits include Lonely Hearts, Final Analysis, Freefall, The Hard Truth, The Cable Guy, The Glass Cage, Past Perfect, Most Wanted, Tripfall, Raptor, The Long Ride Home, Final Approach, The Dark Knight, The Butcher, The Expendables and Enemies Among Us, just to name a few.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, Roberts maintained dramatic film and TV-movie roles while appearing in several TV series and spending three seasons with the sitcom Less Than Perfect and having a recurring role on the NBC drama Heroes. This versatile actor has also appeared in Touched by an Angel, The King of Queens, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, CSI: Miami, The L Word, Entourage, Crash, Chuck and many TV movies including the Emmy nominated television adaptation of In Cold Blood.
“They’re all connected from mouth to ass, mouth to ass, mouth to ass, and we have hundreds of them forming a digestive tract, and it’s so horrifying to watch. When they offered me this, my knee jerk reaction was to say, ‘No.’ Then they said, ‘But you have to watch the one we made before this one. It’ll make you want to make the movie.’ They were right. I watched it and it was so far out that I said, ‘Yeah. I want to be a part of this.’ Wait till you see it! It’s gonna blow your mind!”
Roberts can be seen on television this month in The Perfect Summer, an original movie made for UP TV (formerly known as GMC). The film was mostly shot in the Wrightsville Beach area of North Carolina. The Perfect Summer premieres on UP TV on Saturday, July 13, and also stars Sydney Penny, Adam Horner and Jason Castro (finalist on the 7th season of American Idol).
Eric Roberts: Hello Melissa. Good morning.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Eric, how are you today?
Eric Roberts: I’m good. Thanks doll.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You were raised in Atlanta. Have you completely lost your southern accent?
Eric Roberts: I never really had one because I was always an actor, so I always had to stay away from that. But when I go home and hang out with my family, I start talking like this in five minutes (southern drawl). So you never know. I’m still related to people who sound like that, so it does sneak out sometimes.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You know I’m in Birmingham.
Eric Roberts: Birmingham. I dig it. Your accent is adorable! It’s old home week for me, baby.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Let’s talk for a few minutes about The Perfect Summer. What was it about the film that sparked your interest?
Eric Roberts: Well, he was not a goody two shoes, but he wasn’t a bad guy, and he was a grandfather, and I’ve never played a grandfather. I thought, “Well, I’ve got to start playing guys my age anyway, so I might as well start today. I’ve never made a surfing movie, but I love them, so I thought, “This is perfect.” It was fun to do and a great location. Who knew? All of those reasons are why I did it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me a little more about your character.
Eric Roberts: He’s a retired world champion longboarder, so he’s kind of special in his ability. He’s an anti-hero in that he doesn’t have anything to prove, and he has no axe to grind. But he is who he is, and his grandson’s going through the adolescent misfits of not really fitting in anywhere with his peers, so I give him a suggestion.
I say, “You know, you ought to learn to surf.” He does and he allows me to teach him to surf. He becomes pretty good. It’s all about coming of age, but it’s also about the understanding that if you reach out, people will help you if they love you. It’s a nice message, and I loved being a part of it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you a surfer?
Eric Roberts: I am not a surfer, but my stunt double is third in the state in longboarding, so I look great (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I read that there was some drama on the first day of shooting.
Eric Roberts: Yes. We all go down to the beach expecting to go to work to do a little paddling in the water and do a little scene on the beach. We see twenty-foot high waves, and even the surfers are going, “Whoa! That’s some bad stuff!” We couldn’t get in the water that day so we shot a scene on the beach, went home and started the next day in the water.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I heard that Jason Castro was somewhat nervous during his first acting gig. Did you offer any advice?
Eric Roberts: Well, let me talk to you about six degrees of separation. This has all happened by circumstance. Listen to this. I love Jason. What a sweetie pie, by the way. My wife, Eliza, is his acting coach, and my stepson, Keaton Simons, is on a co-headlining tour right now with Jason, and they both have songs in the movie.
Keaton Simons and Jason Castro both have songs in the movie, and Keaton is my stepson, so that all just happened by circumstance. We all have six degrees of separation. Jason and Keaton are really good friends, and they both have songs in the movie. Isn’t that wild?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Very wild! Keaton released a new album this year.
Eric Roberts: He sure did. We’re so proud of it. It is killer.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Eric, you’ve had such a long, interesting career.
Eric Roberts: I’ve been in movies nearly 40 years, but I’ve been in show business about 52 years. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yes it is! What’s different about you today as an actor than say 25 years ago?
Eric Roberts: That’s an easy answer. I am totally relaxed now. It’s like, “Here’s what I do and here’s how I do it. How can I help you?” It used to be, “Oh my God! I have an incredible scene coming up! Oh my God!” I would get nervous. But now it’s like, “Here’s what we’re doing. Let’s do it.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): It’s a crazy business, isn’t it?
Eric Roberts: Ah, it’s a nutty business. But you know what? Since I’ve been involved in my stepson’s music career, I realized as hard and as weird as I think the movie industry is, the music industry is harder and weirder especially now with the music industry falling apart because of people not being able to make money off music. I mean, everybody’s freaking out. It has gotten so cutthroat and so weird and so desperate, and there aren’t any guys making any money right now. It’s really sad.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there a chance you might be returning to The Young and the Restless?
Eric Roberts: The producer of that show is a very good friend of ours, and he asks me back every now and then to lift their ratings a little bit. It all depends if I have time. If he asks me back, I will go because I love him. But it all depends on scheduling. You know, it’s weird. Of all my work, I like my soap opera work least because that’s the hardest work for an actor I have every done.
You have to quickly learn the script, run through the lines in two seconds … zip, zip, zip! Well, I can’t do that. It’s hard for me. I sit down and have to work hard to do that show, and I’m not great at it. Don’t get me wrong. I am my biggest fan, but I’m not great at soap opera work. It is hard.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): And you basically got your start on the soap Another World in 1977.
Eric Roberts: That’s right, and I was bad then, too, baby.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You are doing The Human Centipede 3?
Eric Roberts: That was so much fun to make! Wait till you see that movie. That’s going to freak you out! It’s so weird what we’re doing with that. We take guys that have been convicted of murder and rape and who will never see the light of day again or ever be free again, and we put them as a part of a human centipede.
They’re all connected from mouth to ass, mouth to ass, mouth to ass, and we have hundreds of them forming a digestive tract, and it’s so horrifying to watch. When they offered me this, my knee jerk reaction was to say, “No.” Then they said, “But you have to watch the one we made before this one. It’ll make you want to make the movie.” They were right. I watched it and it was so far out that I said, “Yeah. I want to be a part of this.” Wait till you see it! It’s gonna blow your mind!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you the villain?
Eric Roberts: I am a bad guy, baby, of course. I play a corrupt Senator.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You play the bad guy so well.
Eric Roberts: Yeah, and they’re fun to play. They get the best clothes, they drive the best cars, they get the girlfriends with the most cleavage, and they always get to die. It’s fun.
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