By Michelle Vink on
Look To The Stars’ Michelle Vink was recently lucky enough to sit down with actor Eric Roberts and talk about his charitable influences.
The real Eric Roberts has a lot more heart than his mob boss character, Sal Maroni from The Dark Knight. I was pleasantly surprised to meet a sensitive tough guy who isn’t afraid to speak his mind or from his heart and cares as much about his family as his career. Sitting across from me was just the kind of guy that this city could use more of. He is a father that believes in his children and supports their dreams and ambitions, a husband that cannot stop praising his wife and mother in law and even credits them as being his inspiration and greatest influences in his life, and a celebrity that doesn’t just attach his name to a charity he believes in but becomes actively involved and wants to spread the word. This is my interview with the Eric Roberts a lot more people should know.
You have a very successful and accomplished career in Hollywood. What would you consider your greatest professional achievement?
Probably winning the Theatre World award for “Burn This” on Broadway. But also that is also equal to my nomination for best newcomer at the Golden Globes. I didn’t win it but it was pretty exciting. And also achieving a voice where I can create awareness of things that are important in the world.
What do you consider your greatest personal achievement?
My family. I am just mad about my wife. She is my hero; she is all the things I want to be when grow up. Also anything to do with the kids – if I’ve inspired them or opened any doors for them. That would be Emma, Keaton and Morgan.
And he has every reason to be proud. His children are all on their personal journeys of success. His daughter, Emma Roberts, recently starred in Hotels for Dogs, his son Keaton is signed by CBS Records and is currently on tour, and his daughter Morgan has successfully launched her own catering company that caters to the stars.
Who has been the biggest influence in your personal life?
My biggest influence came late in my life. It is my one and only wife. I have been looking for an influence my whole life…. I have no sense of Self. I am an actor who lives through my work. But this relationship has made this better because I think so much of her and she thinks enough of me to have me that I must think a little more of myself. I cant say enough about my wife.
Who has been the biggest influence in your professional life?
That’s been my wife as well…and I do get thrilled when someone talented breaks through and I’d say new talent inspires me.
What inspired you to get involved in charity?
That’s a no-brainer. There’s a lot of work to do on this planet! I started to see a pattern. People who grew up around violence continue to create wars and violent environments.
I thought things needed to be nipped in the bud. We need to stop abusing kids, and that will bring us peace on the streets and on the planet everywhere. There is no need to yell at a child. You explain to the child instead of yelling or raising your voice. Even all the learning things can be cool.
What do you consider the most difficult point in your life? How did you overcome that and turn it into something positive?
I would get depressed sometimes for weeks when I saw sad things.
My wife realized how affected and closed down I would get by mankind’s conditions and gave me a mantra to live by: “When in doubt, give”.
Who inspires you the most now?
I am inspired by Carl Sagan, Andrew Weil, Helen Caldicott, my mother-in-law, longtime activist & award winning screenwriter, Lila Garrett… who has a radio show called Connect the Dots on KPFK 90.7 for any political novice to open your political point of view in an honest way. My mother-in-law is one of two smartest women I have ever kissed.
Anyone who stands for peace & pacifism is a hero of mine. Every child abuse intervention Eliza or I participate in inspires me.
Tell me about one of your most memorable moments involving charity or philanthropy.
This story is about abuse and how if you don’t do it, you don’t have to deal with it, but if it is done, it can be undone but it will be a lot of work. One of my favorite examples is this: the day my stepdaughter, Morgan Simons, brought home a broken and abused pitbull dexter that had been tied up so long outside that the rope had grown into his neck. She had rescued from the shelter in south central Los Angeles and wanted to fix him. He had been raised to kill and was broken emotionally and physically… so I let her have the dog and with the help of a great vet, she fixed this dog.
He is a madly loved member of our family now. It was years and thousands of hours of love that helped him.
Have you been successful at making any changes in Hollywood?
Absolutely. My wife always tries to get me to add a line in any part I play-even if it’s a bad guy. She always tries to give me a cool line about anti-child abuse but it usually ends up on the editing room floor. But we have managed to make the changes.
How would you work that into The Dark Knight?
[laughing] It doesn’t always work.
Why would you recommend for others to get involved in charity and philanthropy?
When you see the impact from the positive intervention and it helps you remember what life is all about. But you have to drop the bad guy routine… it’s better than any drug, drink or distraction.
Helping gives you an answer to the question about the purpose of life, as ridiculous as that sounds.
Has any of your work influenced your view of the world or society? What project and how?
I object to the violence in some of my films.
“It’s My Party” was important to me because I have a gay stepdaughter, and my heart breaks when I see that some of her friends’ families do the cruel thing of telling their kids they wouldn’t accept them being gay.
What would you like to see change about the world?
I would like to see peace and the elimination of all weapons.
I would like to see people feel secure enough so that they would not be prone to religious fanaticism.
I would like to see people stop speaking harshly to their children, and certainly the hitting of kids has to stop…. same with the treatment of animals.
On a closer scale, I would like to see my stepson, Keaton Simons,
find great success as a recording artist; and my stepdaughter to find great success as a caterer and chef.
What would you do to fix the issues?
I’d love for everyone to listen to the audio book, “The Natural Child”. It encompasses my entire philosophy.
If you had the opportunity to use your celebrity status to make changes for the better of the world, what would you do?
I would gift everyone with “Natural Child”, and I would get Keaton’s music out there, because it is a message of love, patience, truth and support.
Why is it important for Hollywood to lead the way and set an example for advocacy and philanthropy?
Because Hollywood people are visible. We are out there to be seen. We are famous and people listen to our endorsements. If a celebrity says stop hitting kids, maybe one of their fans will stop hitting kids.
What advice could you give to your fans that are interested in getting involved in volunteer or charity work?
Go to naturalchild.org and contact Jan Hunt and see what they can do to help with her family-saving charity.
Let’s talk about The Natural Child Project. The vision of Natural Child project is to create a “world in which all children are treated with dignity, respect, understanding and compassion.” How do you think this is achieved? How can more people get involved?
Everyone needs to just try Jan’s methods of relating to their children, and call Jan’s counseling line if stressed. There is counseling available at: naturalchild.org/counseling/
The Natural Child project believes that “in such a world, every child can grow into adulthood with a generous capacity for love and trust.” How does this charity aid in this type of development? Why is this so important for the future of our country and the live of our children?
Thank you for researching Natural Child! If you read about the Nazis in the books of Alice Miller, you learn that those people became monsters due to having been abused as kids.
It’s a very serious issue with a very clear ounce of prevention solution.
What is your most memorable moment as a child or with a child? Has this affected your decision to get involved with natural child project or to be involved with children’s orphanages?
I’ve watched small children be berated with insults from parents they’re afraid of. You can watch the child’s mind twist under these conditions. I am determined to stop this from continuing to happen.
What do you get out of helping others and being a part of such a cause?
It makes me want to live.
Precious Paws is another charity that you support. Precious Paw’s primary purpose is to rescue and/or abandoned companion animals. Why did you become involved in this particular charity?
The person who runs Precious Paws used to work as my wife’s casting assistant in TV and movies. She left the business to personally vet and care for animals. She gave up her life to help animals and she is a really groovy chick.
What should people reach out to Precious Paws over some of the better-known animal rescues?
Some of the rescue organizations or other charities have a lot of money and support already…. and then you have someone like Georgyne at Precious Paws who literally goes into the pounds and takes home animals and has to figure out how to feed them. She has vet skills, so she does her own neutering and spaying and does everything she can but she needs help.
Their website is preciouspaws.com and they need volunteers, foster homes and donations. It’s like the Obama campaign. You don’t have to send in big money…. send in $2, $3, $5 …that feeds a dog for several days. Do that. That is cool.
What is one of your most memorable moments with Precious Paws or with a companion animal?
Watching inventor Jon Hoffman’s dog transform from a terrified little creature to a furry ball of love. He had rescued a bijan and this dog was shaking and making noises and now he is a social fairy tale of a dog.
You have been involved in philanthropy and charity for some time. Tell me about some of the other charities or philanthropic efforts you have been involved in.
Several years ago, I visited an orphanage in Moscow. I am a huge star in Russia and it blows my mind. So I go to this orphanage and they all know me from one of my earlier movies, “The Best of the Best.” I bought them shoes and would like to think I gave them hope. “He is just a guy and I could be like him”. It is important to have hope when some of those orphans will never leave the home and will be on the street at 17.
These are some of the other charities that Eric and his wife support:
- Tails of Joy with Elayne Boosler
- Donate for Life
- Prevent Child Abuse America
- K9’s Rock
- Best Friends Animal Society
- Animal Alliance
- Save Darfur Coalition
- New Leash on Life
- www.childfriendly.org (child friendly initiative)
- Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
- Virgin Unite
- ONE Campaign
Eric and his wife also support charities involving organ donation or stem cell research.
Give me an example of how now, more than ever, we need to support each other and work for change in the world?
We are at a time right now because of our past administration, that either we work together or we mess it up. Either we act as a unit or we keep being greedy and selfish. we are all in this together.
Obama is a together guy with no alternative motive, I believe… this guy just wants to be a good leader and I want to help him any way he will let me.
People are homeless. They are scared and in agony and at odds with each other. We need to reverse that!
Despite all the time Eric dedicates to philanthropy and family, he still manages a successful career in Hollywood. His latest movie, Project Solitude – in which he plays a sociology professor who takes 6 students out to the woods to show them how they react with stress and monitors their unraveling, will be released next year.
It seems that if a tough guy celebrity like Eric Roberts can manage to do all of this charity and family stuff and still come out looking like a tough guy, then maybe philanthropy isn’t for just the ladies who lunch after all.
Look To The Stars would like to extend their warmest gratitude to Eric Roberts for taking the time to talk to us.
Copyright © 2009 Look to the Stars