Eriq La Salle is an American actor and director best known for his roles as Darryl in the 1988 comedy film Coming to America and as Dr. Peter Benton on the medical drama television series ER, from 1994-2002.
La Salle received three Emmy nominations for his work on ER, in addition to several Golden Globe, SAG and NAACP Image Award nominations. In 2002 La Salle won his third NAACP Image Award.
La Salle, who was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut as one of four children, studied at Juilliard for two years, before receiving a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater arts from New York University.
Just before his graduation, he was cast in the first of several productions for Joseph Papp's Shakespeare-in-the-Park theatre company. Weeks later he landed his first feature film role in a low-budget Italian movie shot in Florida.
He soon found continuous acting work on Broadway, off-Broadway and in the daytime TV drama One Life to Live as reporter Mike Rivers.
In 1991, La Salle moved to Los Angeles to co-star (with John Mahoney of NBC's Frasier) in the medical drama series The Human Factor. He piled up television credits by guest-starring on L.A. Law, Quantum Leap and A Different World, as well as in Vietnam War Stories.
Among his television movie credits are Empty Cradle, Circumstantial Evidence, What Price Victory? and Leg Work. His feature films include Coming to America, Five Corners, Jacob's Ladder, The Color of Night and D.R.O.P. Squad.
La Salle appeared on Broadway in Death and the King and in Two Trains Running at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.
La Salle later made his mark as a film and TV director. He wrote and directed Psalms from the Underground, a 35-minute short film in which he also starred. He also directed the critically acclaimed cable movie Rebound, about legendary athlete Earl Manigault, whose drug addiction destroyed his promising basketball career.
La Salle has written, directed and produced two short films that won awards at the Worldfest Houston film competition and the USA Film Festival. He produced the television movie Mind Prey, in which he starred as Lucas Davenport, the policeman made famous in a series of mystery novels by John Sandford.
Along with Frank Darabont, the director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, La Salle produced The Salton Sea (starring Val Kilmer). La Salle made his feature directing debut with the independent film Crazy as Hell, in which he starred and also produced.
La Salle can also be seen in Hallmark Channel's Relative Stranger. The film, which follows a man who reunites with his estranged family after his father's death, debuted in 2009.
In 2008, La Salle continued his directorial efforts by directing an episode of the hit NBC show Law & Order: SVU (the second episode he directed for SVU).
In 2012 he had the lead role in the mini-series thriller Blackout.
In his free time, La Salle enjoys shooting pool, basketball and working out (he used to compete in martial arts).