Oscar nominee Eric Roberts talks about online role in show commissioned by Kane Repertory Theatre of St. Charles

Although actor Eric Roberts is best known for his television and movie roles – including his Oscar-nominated performance in the movie “Runaway Train” – he relishes the opportunity to be part of a theatrical production.

Roberts and Chicago actor Harsh Gagoomal star in the online production of Hammaad Chaudry’s “Security,” presented by St. Charles-based Kane Repertory Theatre. The production will premiere Saturday, April 10, with plans for an in-person production when it is deemed safe in light of the continuing pandemic. It can be streamed through May 2.

The online production will be a blend of film and theater. Green screens and professional film setups are provided to the cast in their individual locations, and with the work of a video editor, the final production will look and feel as if both actors are sharing the same space.

Tickets for the online production cost $25 per household or $10 per adult, $8 per senior, and $5 per student. Tickets are available now at kanerepertorytheatre.com/box-office.

Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Roberts about the production.

Eric Schelkopf: Thanks for answering a few of my questions. Of course, you are starring in the online production “Security.” What made you want to be part of the production?

Eric Roberts: I always jump at a theatrical production. I am so often unable to carve out a long enough period for a theatrical run.

This was a week of a real theater feeling experience. And we fell in love with Artistic Director Daniil Krimer, who made it all work with everyone’s schedule.

Schelkopf: Are you looking forward to performing live in the production, whenever that might happen?

Roberts: Looking so forward to performing live in the production as soon as it’s safe for people to come out and see!

Schelkopf: Last March, movie theaters across the country had to close because of the pandemic, just after your new movie “Inside the Rain” had just premiered. That must have been frustrating. What has been the most frustrating part of the pandemic for you?

Roberts: That timing was crazy. Very dramatic. We were on a press junket and suddenly people were getting seriously ill.

Schelkopf: Thankfully, things aren’t as bad as they were a year ago. It seems like you are really keeping busy these days. I understand you and your wife will be appearing in a new TV mini series, “WE 5.” What’s it like working with your wife on a project?

Roberts: “WE 5” is a real family affair. My stepson, Keaton Simons, is directing it and doing the music, plus he has a large role in it that is really different from his role in “Californication” or anything else he’s done. And he’s great.

Yes, Eliza and I are joining Elle Conard and others. An amazing concept and so much fun to work on.

I have worked with Eliza numerous times and love it every time! Thanks for asking. We love acting and generally working together.

Schelkopf: Your portrayal of prison escapee Buck McGeehy in the movie “Runaway Train” earned you an Academy Award nomination. What did you try to bring to that role and were you happy with your performance?

Roberts: I was happy with my work and everyone’s work in “Runaway Train.” I channeled my best childhood friend, Erwin White, and my first cousin, Adam Bowles, when creating the character of Buck.

I didn’t want him to be a typical tough guy. And I am not a fan of super cold weather, and we were in it. I loved every minute.

Schelkopf: Do you have any advice for those who are trying to break into the acting business, especially during these challenging times?

Roberts: Yes! Do it yourself. Submit all day and all night through Actors Access.

Make films and put them on YouTube. Become a marketing expert!

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.