Sunday, July 14, 2013


Julia Roberts has a brother named Eric. If you were cognizant in the 80's, you already know that.

Eric, you see, is also an actor, like his younger sister.

In fact, believe it or not, at one stage Eric Roberts was set to be the next big thing.

A star.

And then, his Hollywood stock started to fall. Bad movie after bad movie followed. He baffled audiences and critics with his choices. How could he be Oscar-nominated for 'Runaway Train', and then star in a B-grade martial arts film, 'Best of the Best', just a few films later?

As it turns out, Roberts would answer this question himself:

"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."

So, out of financial desperation, and (from another interview) the crippling paranoia of never getting another job offer, Roberts took every role and brought about his own career downfall.

Roberts is not alone in facing these concerns. The feeling of choosing 'passion versus work' is one that we all face at some point in our lives. No matter your profession, we have also all had that moment where you wonder if the opportunity in front of you will be your last.

In that sense, everyone can take a lesson from Eric Roberts' cautionary tale.

Unfortunately, these two feelings are usually only associated with a project or opportunity that you are not really convinced about. Your intuition tells you that you want to pass on the offer, but the naysaying voice in your mind wonders aloud, 'but what if this is the last offer I get? My big break?'

While I would love to tell you differently, this is a paradox that is difficult to resolve.

It is true that the best projects to attach to are the ones where you can't imagine being uninvolved, but these sorts of projects only come along infrequently. And, while you sustain yourself with your adherence to these lofty principles, the truth is that there is also something to be said for staying active. Ultimately, it really depends on your circumstances and whether you are hardwired to play the game with a long term view in mind.

Personally, I won't work on anything that I can't envision being proud to talk about years later. As a producer, it is particularly important because you have to live with the film for FAR longer than everyone else.

But I have known others who prefer to stay active. Building skills by working on a plethora of smaller projects.

Both of these approaches are perfectly valid in their own right. The commonality, you see, is that both approaches are motivated by reasons very different to the melancholy tale of Eric Roberts. These two approaches are motivated by developing a career based on choices.

Mr Roberts was motivated by money and fear of being ignored.

But all is not lost. Roberts finally stopped jumping at every offer and started to make better choices. His biggest star turn was a well received role as a mob boss in the acclaimed Batman sequel, 'The Dark Knight'.

And that is the beauty of choice. It's never too late to correct your trajectory. It can start as simply with the next choice you face.

But wait. Just when the clouds were clearing, Roberts signed on to reality show, 'Celebrity Rehab'.

And, most recently, he has been announced to star in 'The Human Centipede 3'.

Oh dear.

Make good decisions.

Don't be Eric Roberts.

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