He began his acting career at age 5 in a local theater company called the "Actors and Writers Workshop", founded by his late father. After his schooling at Grady High, he studied drama at age 17 in London for two years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, then returned to the States and continued his studies at the American Academy in New York.
After appearing in such daytime soaps as Another World (1964) and How to Survive a Marriage (1974), his career began to shift fast forward when he copped a leading role in a major film. In King of the Gypsies (1978), based on Peter Maas' best-seller about a fracturing dynasty of New York City gypsies. Young Eric held his own expertly (winning a Golden Globe nomination) while his burning intensity and brooding charm marked sure signs of star potential. in Star 80 (1983) that really put him on the movie map and earned him a second Golden Globe nomination. He then Earned an Academy Award nomination as a young prison escapee hiding out with Jon Voight aboard an out-of-control train in the ultra-violent, character-driven action adventure Runaway Train (1985). Good things continued to happen when he was cast in The Dark Knight (2008), part of the "Batman" series with Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger.