Eric Roberts has been in front of cameras for much of his life, but his extensive career as an actor didn’t prepare him for what he calls the “very exposing” experience of being on a reality show.
“It’s like riding public transportation in your not-clean underwear,” Roberts told Zap2it Saturday (April 9) at the Reality Rocks Expo. “It’s very exposing, it’s frightening, and it’s awkward. It’s especially awkward if you’ve been an actor your whole life. … I’ve done almost 100 plays and almost 200 films, so all I know is acting. So then I’m told this is a different kind of acting — and yes, it is. It’s not acting; it’s reacting to whatever circumstance they put you into. And it’s frightening.”
Roberts was on the most recent season of VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab,” which helped him kick a long-time marijuana habit and also helped facilitate a better relationship with his stepson, musician Keaton Simons. The end result was good, but “every day sucked. It was not fun doing that show,” he said during a panel called “Reality TV Changed My Life.”
Roberts remains one of the busier actors in showbiz, with several movies in the pipeline and a lead role in ABC’s drama pilot “Grace,” which he thinks could be “a gigantic hit.” The show is a family drama set in the dance world; he plays a Bob Fosse-esque “womanizing choreographer,” as he puts it. Abigail Spencer, Debbie Allen and Chris Carmack of “The O.C.” are also in the cast; “Dancing With the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba is a producer, and several “So You Think You Can Dance” alumni are featured as dancers.
“All I can do is say it’s probably the best thing, as a whole unit of production, that I’ve been involved in since 1983,” Roberts says. “All my bosses are women” — “Grey’s Anatomy” exec producer Krista Vernoff created it, and Lesli Linka Glatter (“Mad Men,” “ER”) directed the pilot — “and I love that. It’s so much better than men. Men have f***ed up the world for 3,000 years. If we let women take over a little bit, we’d all be happier guys.”