Eric Roberts

  1. Richard Gere, An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982.  The way too busy Jeff Bridges (in three films that year) was director Taylor Hackford’s first Zack Mayo.  Dennis Quaid and Christopher Reeve were seen. John Denver, Kurt Russell, John Travolta and Ken Wahl simply refused.Hackford said that Bill Treusch, manager of Eric Roberts, got in the way of any possible director-actor teamanship.“He wanted to do this after-school [TV] special, instead,” said his agent Gary Luchesi.   Producer Don Simpson  called up Luchesi: “Do you have any idea the mistake this guy is making?”  He did and Roberts remained a B-movie player. Not even Luchesi hired him when successfully  turning producer in 1992. “Gere turned this down eight or nine times,” recalled director Taylor Hackford.  Until producer Don Simpson “just madehim do it.”So it was Gere who literally swept Debra Winger off her feet. Denver never looked strong enough to sweep her carpet
  2. Zeljko Ivanek, Mass Appeal, 1984.     Surrendered repeating his Broadway role to move from priest to… Pope of Greenwich Village.  No promotion!
  3. Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, 1986.     In all, 39 possibilities for the  off-kilter, ’Nam vet cop Martin Riggs – not as mentally-deranged as in early drafts (he used a rocket launcher on one guy!)  Some ideas were inevitable: Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn (shooting Aliens), Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, William Petersen, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Russell, Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis. Some were inspired: Bryan Brown, Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum (he inherited Gibson’s role in The Fly),  William Hurt (too dark for Warner Bros), Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Liam Neeson, Eric Roberts. Some were insipid: Jim Belushi, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Stephen Lang, Michael Nouri (he joined another cop duo in The Hidden),  Patrick Swayze. Plus TV cops  Don  Johnson, Tom Selleck… three foreign LA cops: Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dutch Rutger Hauer and French Christophe(r) Lambert. And the inevitable (Aussie) outsider Richard Norton.
  4. Willem Dafoe, The Last Temptation of Christ, 1988.    In 1983, when Aidan Quinn had “some religious problems with the part” and before Paramount lowered the boom, director Martin Scorsese considered Roberts and Chris Walken as Christ. In 1988,“the minute I saw Willem… I felt very comfortable with his face.”
  5. BillyZane,This World, Then The Fireworks, 1997.    Jim Thompson’s book had an incestuous brother and sisterand first-time helmer Michael Oblowitz aimedfor the impossible – the first time screen pairing ofEric and Julia Roberts.
  6. Matthew Kimbrough/Ted Levine, Joy Ride (UK: Road Kill), 2000.      A brace of  Erics – Roberts and Stoltz – tested as “Rusty Nail,” the anonymous, implacable, pyscho  and barely-seen trucker (shades of Duel), heard on his CB Radio. Hefty Kimbrough  won the gig  – but he was (creepily) voiced by Levine –  aka serial killer  Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs and Monk’s long-suffering police captain. 
  7. Bruce McGill, Rizzoli & Isles, TV, 2010-2016.   Tom Atkins, Powers Boothe, Miguel Ferrer, Robert Patrick, Eric Roberts, Fisher Stevens and three Reservoir Dogs – Messers Pink, Blonde and Orange aka Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth – were in the frame for Detective Rizzoli’s former partner, Vince Korsak in this latest take on Cagney & Lacey.  Oh, and in his sixth move, Paxton The Dog played the pooch called… Jo Friday!



 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  7