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Eric Roberts plays lovable role in 'Inside the Rain'

Eric Roberts' new movie Inside the Rain is now available on VOD. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Eric Roberts' new movie "Inside the Rain" is now available on VOD. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, March 28 (UPI) -- People have been coping in different ways while self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic. Students are attending classes remotely, executives are holding remote business meetings and celebrities are creating content for their social media followers. Actor Eric Roberts thinks this will become more common.

"The whole world has changed now," Roberts told UPI in a phone interview. "I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in a whole new social way of life."

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Some public officials disagree on when it might be safe to return to pre-coronavirus socializing, with recommendations ranging from weeks to months. However, Roberts said even when that occurs, people should expect more pandemics in the future.

"I think it might become habit because if we have one, we're going to have another," Roberts said. "You don't have one pandemic and then never another one. We're going to have others, so we have to get used to how to deal with them properly. This is a whole new ballgame for all of us."

Roberts also discussed his latest movie, Inside the Rain, now available on Amazon Prime and other VOD services. Star Aaron Fisher wrote, directed and edited the film to tell a story about how he copes with bipolar disorder. Roberts plays Monty, a producer who helps Ben (Fisher) make a short film.

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"I made the movie because I think it's so valuable -- the subject matter," Roberts said. "It's like he's removing the shame of this kind of issue."

In the film, Ben gets kicked out of college for overdosing on his medications. He makes the short film to tell his side of the story and ask the school to reinstate him. Fisher said Ben's struggles with medications were inspired by his own.

"Currently I take 18 different prescription medications daily," Fisher told UPI in a separate phone interview. "It's taken about 11 or 12 years to get to this drug cocktail that allows for me to function."

Roberts said he had experience being on medication, too. They did not help him, but he wanted to help tell Fisher's story to reflect those for whom prescription medications can help.

"I was on psychotropics for about 1,000 days," Roberts said. "They did not work for me. They worked against me, but I tried them for a long time. But, I also understand they are a lifeline for some people."

Ben resists taking medication throughout Inside the Rain. Fisher shared that he, too, resisted medication when he first experienced manic episodes at age 19.

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"I don't think any recreational drugs could get you this euphoric," Fisher said.

While he was euphoric, Fisher only slept one or two hours a night, a symptom Ben also exhibits in the film. After two months, Fisher began having hallucinations and experienced a physical crash.

"I was lying on the street at the corner of a block in Park Slope, Brooklyn," Fisher said. "I just went into a complete meltdown. At that point, it was like, 'Get me on medications, please. I'll do anything. Just make it stop.'"

Monty is a familiar character to Roberts, too. Monty is not much of a producer, but he's the only one Ben has.

"Monty is a guy who is so charming and so likable, but you don't really know if you can depend on him," Roberts said. "He's very ordinary, he's very common, but he's also a lot of fun to know."

Roberts frequently gets roles in independent films. He credits the film industry's shift to digital filmmaking, which allows more movies to be produced.

"Since they took film away and gave us HD, everyone can actually afford to buy a camera," Roberts said. "They're all buying cameras all over the world and they're calling for you. So from 2003 to 2018, I made a million movies and I've seen the world for free and had a great time doing it."

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The only downside to making so many movies is that they happen so fast. Roberts regrets he does not get equal time to prepare for each role.

"I miss the old days of the time to do homework," Roberts said. "Sometimes the offers come in the night before we shoot. When that happens, I say I need cue cards. I've used cue cards maybe 30 times in my career, but you can't be caught reading."

Fisher hired Roberts early enough for the actor to prepare, Roberts said. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Roberts had been booked for the next three months.

All of those productions are rescheduling now. He hopes he can still film the fifth Stalked By My Doctor film for Lifetime this summer.

"I play a very bad doctor," Roberts said. "We're going to start the fifth installment of those movies in the summertime. I just love this serial. It's so much fun to do."

Hollywood typecast Roberts as a villain since his 1982 film, Star 80, he said. He played Paul Snider, the boyfriend who murdered Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten.

"I was the guy you called to play a lunatic," Roberts said. "I've been playing the bad guys since then, loving every day of it. It's so much fun to play bad guys because you get the best clothes, the best car -- and you get to die."

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Although Roberts has no regrets, he admits it was refreshing when Fisher offered him the lovable role of Monty.

"It's shocking, actually, because I have been typecast a lot," Roberts said.

Inside the Rain is available on Amazon Prime and other VOD services.

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