“I have always been terrible at sports,” Eric Lange admits. But later this month he’ll get a chance to redeem himself as he gets to take a turn on the mound at the Great American Ball Park.
Granted, it will only be to throw out the first pitch as the Cincinnati Reds take on the Milwaukee Brewers.
Lange, a 1991 Fairfield High School graduate and 1995 Miami University graduate, is now living in Hollywood and making a name for himself as a solid character actor.
Some of his most high-profile gigs included playing Stuart Radzinsky on the hit ABC series “Lost” and the eccentric acting teacher Mr. Sikowitz on the Nickelodeon teen show “Victorious.” He also had a featured role on the recent show “Cult” and can currently be seen on the FX series “The Bridge,” where plays the friend of one of the series’ lead characters.
In a phone interview, he said that he moved to California just a few months after graduating from Miami.
“I had auditioned for a few grad schools, but then I figured I should just jump right in and see what it was really like to work in film and television,” he said. “You can be the best actor in the world, but if you don’t like how the the business is run, you’re not going to be very happy working in it.”
He began landing commercial work rather quickly, and got roles in a lot of plays.
His first movie role came a year later in “High School High,” where he played a singing waiter, but steady work in film and television took about eight years to start finding a groove.
“I finally got a manager who could get me the work,” he said. “But all in all, it’s just a matter of lucky timing.”
If there is a secret to earning a living as an actor in film and TV, he said, it’s perseverance.
“The work ethic is the biggest thing,” he said, “keeping your nose to the grindstone.
“I feel really good about the training I got, so I came out here feeling good because I did so much work at Miami,” he said. “The eight years I was doing commercials, I was just getting better and better. I like to tell people that I matured like a fine wine.
“But a lot of people will come out here expecting that it will happen quickly, and sometimes it does, but it can also go away quickly,” he said. “It just takes a lot of work and a lot of humbling yourself.”
He also gave a lot of credit to his parents, who gave him a lot of support and encouragement.
“It can be a pretty dark place out here,” he said. “But with good parents, a good support system and a couple of breaks, it can be done.”
Lange has also had guest spots on “Castle,” “Touch,” “Grimm,” “Chuck,” “Weeds,” “Monk” and “Bones,” as well as a few series with more than one word in the title, like “My Name Is Earl,” “Criminal Minds” and “Boston Legal.”
He said he is wrapping up his work on “The Bridge,” but couldn’t say much more than that in order to preserve the surprises of the plot, and he’ll soon begin production on a movie called “Imagine” about an aging rock star who finds a letter written to him by John Lennon and embarks on a journey to repair some of his damaged relationships.
The film stars Jennifer Garner, Annette Bening and Al Pacino, with whom he also worked on the Dr. Kevorkian biopic “You Don’t Know Jack.”
“To work anywhere near Al Pacino once is good enough, but to do it a second time is pretty remarkable,” he said.
He confessed that it can be a bit daunting to walk onto a set to work alongside big stars like Pacino, but the best thing to overcome being star struck it to “fake it like you’re not intimidated at all.”
“You realize pretty quickly that they’re all just human beings and some are very good at putting you at ease,” Lange said, and related an anecdote where he confessed to an unnamed Hollywood star that he was nervous.
“He just put a hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Don’t lose that awe’,” he said. “So I’m happy to be star struck.”