Eric Stoltz (born September 30, 1961) is an American actor widely considered one of the most prominent and diverse performers in independent film. He has starred in big studio movies such as Mask, Some Kind of Wonderful, Memphis Belle, Rob Roy and Little Women, as well as the indy film favourites The Waterdance, Pulp Fiction, Kicking and Screaming and The House of Mirth.
He is known primarily for playing either sensitive misfits (Mask, Kicking and Screaming, The Waterdance) or sociopathic criminals (Pulp Fiction, Killing Zoe). In Pulp Fiction, he played Lance, who refused to help Vincent (John Travolta) with Marsellus Wallace's wife Mia (Uma Thurman) who was about to die unless she received a shot of adrenaline to the heart.
Originally cast as Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985), he was replaced after filming had started, when Michael J. Fox (the director's first choice for the role) became free from his sitcom Family Ties. The director, Robert Zemeckis, has said that Stoltz was giving a serious performance, but what he wanted was a 'sitcomy touch'. The first film was half finished, but never released.
On television, he has played Helen Hunt's ex-boyfriend on Mad About You, Debra Messing's boyfriend on Will and Grace, and the English teacher-poet August Dimitri in ABC's Once and Again.
He produced the films Bodies, Rest & Motion in 1993, Sleep with Me in 1994, and Mr. Jealousy in 1997. as well as working as a production assistant on Say Anything and Singles.
More recently, he has starred in The Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutcher, and The Triangle with Sam Neill. He also guest-starred in a 2003 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as the 2005 season finale of the NBC sitcom Will & Grace.
He started directing in 2002 with an episode of Once and Again, and the following year was nominated for a daytime Emmy for his direction of the cable movie My Horrible Year. He has also directed a short film entitled The Bulls, as well as the highest rated episode of Law and Order in 2005, entitled Tombstone. This was the episode where Detective Green (Jesse L. Martin) was shot and hospitalized.
Trained in the theatre, Stoltz has also appeared on Broadway and off-Broadway, in such diverse plays as Three Sisters, The Importance of Being Ernest, Arms and the Man, The Glass Menagerie, Two Shakespearean Actors, Sly Fox, and Our Town, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.
He has contributed essays to the books City Secrets- New York as well as Life Interrupted by Spalding Gray, and appears on the children's CD 'Philadelphia Chickens'.
On a personal note, he lived with Bridget Fonda from 1990-1998, and with actress Jennifer Jason Leigh from 1985-1989.