Eric Hamilton Stoltz (born September 30, 1961) is an American actor and director. He is known for playing sensitive misfits (Mask, Kicking and Screaming, The Waterdance, Killing Zoe). He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for Mask. He currently stars in the science fiction television series Caprica.
Stoltz was born in Whittier, California, the son of Evelyn B. (née Vawter), a violinist and schoolteacher who died in 1994, and Jack Stoltz, an elementary school teacher. He has two older sisters, Catherine Stoltz (1954) and Susan R. Stoltz (1957). Eric was raised in both American Samoa and Santa Barbara, California, where, as a child, he once earned money playing piano for local musical theatre productions. He attended the University of Southern California, where he dropped out in his junior year.
In the 1970s Stoltz joined a repertory company that did 10 plays at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, UK. He returned to the States in 1979, when he entered USC as a drama student, then subsequently dropped out to pursue film and TV roles. In the late '70s he was cast as Carol Burnett and Charles Grodin's son in the TV adaptation of Erma Bombeck's "The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank". In 1981 he studied with Stella Adler and Peggy Feury in New York, and soon appeared in his first film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Originally cast as Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985), he was replaced after 5 weeks of filming, when Michael J. Fox (the director's first choice for the role) agreed to divide time between the movie and his television sitcom, Family Ties. The director, Robert Zemeckis, has said that while Stoltz provided an admirable performance, his performance lacked the precise comedic sense that Zemeckis was looking for. Some of the original footage (shots where Stoltz doesn't appear, but was on set) was used in the film. This was referenced in a 2010 episode of Fringe where, in an alternate universe, a theater marquee reads "Back to the Future starring Eric Stoltz".