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American actor, Eric Roberts at The Guardian, promises to help development of Nollywood

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor 14 September 2017   |   4:21 am

Eric Roberts at The Guardian on September 13, 2017. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESHIN-KUTI

The American actor, Eric Anthony Roberts, has arrived Nigeria to help in the promotion of the country’s film industry, Nollywood.

The 61-year-old actor, who is making his first trip to Nigeria, was in The Guardian Newspapers yesterday, where he said, “I’m not bringing Hollywood here. Nigerians have to create their own Hollywood.”

He also said during the visit that his coming to make many interested in making one input or the other. His words: “My being here will attract other people.”

While acknowledging that he has worked in Nigerian movies before in the United States, said, “it was easy and nice working with the Nigerian actors on the set.”

He also spoke on the change in the movie industry, which has stifled creativity and made many-a-movies boring and unattractive. According to Roberts, in the past, it took a long time to get a film ready. The whole process took about six to eight months from scripting to post-production stages. “These days, it is shot in six weeks, sometimes, six straight days. Then, artistes, producers and directors ran the industry. Now, lawyers do.”

He added, “lawyers want to go cheap, so, now there are no more celluloid films, but HD films. They are very cheap, very ugly and unattractive.”

His visit is timed to shine a spotlight on the country’s film industry at a time when global attention is growing.

According to a 2014 report from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC), Nollywood generates, on average, US$600m a year for the economy. It is also estimated that it employs more than one million people (excluding pirates), making it Nigeria’s largest employer of labour after agriculture.

Nollywood, which has a large following in Africa and among African emigrants around the world, estimated at more than 30 million (2014 figures) and growing, is best known for its low-budget films, but appreciated for their stories rather than high production.

Roberts’ career began with a well-received performance in King of the Gypsies (1978), for which he earned his first Golden Globe Award nomination. His second Golden Globe nomination came for his portrayal of Paul Snider in Star 80 (1983), followed by Globe and Academy Award nominations for his supporting role in Runaway Train (1985).

In a career spanning almost 40 years, Roberts has performed in over 400 films, including, Raggedy Man (1981), The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), The Specialist (1994), Cecil B. Demented (2000), National Security (2003), The Dark Knight (2008), The Expendables (2010), and Inherent Vice (2014).

His equally varied television work includes, three seasons with the sitcom Less than Perfect, as well as recurring roles on the NBC drama, Heroes and the CBS soap opera, The Young and the Restless, as well as Saved by the Light, and the legal drama, Suits.

Last year, he featured in AY’s comedy drama, A trip to Jamaica (2016), and his most recent collaboration, A Soldier’s Story 2, which features Nollywood actress, Linda Ejiofor.



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