A familiar face in the new millennium, actor Eric Balfour found the majority of his success with recurring roles on popular television series, rather than in feature films or as the lead of an ongoing series of his own. The Los Angeles native began his career as a teenage cast member of "Kids Incorporated" (Disney Channel, 1984-1993) in 1991, then gradually built a résumé with guest turns on such popular fare as the fan favorite "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (The WB, 1997-2003) and the critically acclaimed "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05). He picked up further momentum as a security expert on the first and sixth seasons of Kiefer Sutherland's long-running action series "24" (Fox, 2001-2010), and in between, dipped his toe into feature films with a role in the gory remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2003). Permanent cast roles, however, remained elusive for the actor, with such series efforts as "Veritas: The Quest" (ABC, 2003-04) and "Conviction" (NBC, 2006) being canceled within a single season or less. A starring role in the sleazy biker movie "Hell Ride" (2008) and the widely panned sci-fi thriller "Skyline" (2010) did little to boost Balfour's profile in cinemas. Although with the Stephen King-inspired supernatural drama "Haven" (Syfy, 2010-15) it seemed as if the actor may have at last found the stable TV role he had sought for so long. Having established himself as a dependable player on a wide array of projects, Balfour remained one of the busier young actors on television.
Eric Salter Balfour was born on April 24, 1977 in Los Angeles to Sharon and David Balfour, a family therapist and chiropractor, respectively. Along with younger sister Tori, Balfour grew up in the nearby city of Burbank, where the family - of partial Native American descent - constructed a functioning sweat lodge in their backyard. Raised in the television capital of the world, it was no surprise when the outgoing Balfour began auditioning for roles in his early teens. His professional acting debut came on Disney's educational variety program "Kids Incorporated" (Disney Channel, 1984-1993) in 1991. After a year on the show, the ambitious young Balfour left to pursue other television work, appearing in episodes of "Step by Step" (CBS, 1991-98), "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" (CBS, 1993-2001) and "Boy Meets World" (ABC, 1993-2000). Balfour landed a brief, but pivotal role on the pilot episode of Joss Whedon's cult supernatural series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (The WB, 1997-2003) as Jesse McNally. Remembered as one of the series' first victims of a vampire attack, Balfour's character was taken out by a bloodsucker in the second episode. Still, it was enough to garner him notice and steady work soon followed.
Balfour's next substantial break came when he landed a minor role on yet another pilot - this time for the acclaimed cable drama series "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05). Cast as Claire Fisher's (Lauren Ambrose) meth-smoking boyfriend, Gabriel, Balfour was initially hired for only one episode. However, show creator Alan Ball was so impressed with the chemistry between Balfour and Ambrose that he decided to keep the actor on in a recurring capacity. Over the next two seasons of the lauded program, Balfour appeared on a semi-regular basis. During this time, he picked up an even more prominent role on the immensely popular Kiefer Sutherland action series "24" (Fox, 2001-2010), portraying Milo Pressman, a computer expert at the government's Counter Terrorism Unit during the show's sensational first season. After garnering attention for his work on two such high-profile series, it was not long before Balfour landed his first leading role on the big screen. Co-starring opposite Jessica Biel in the horror remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2003), he played one of a group of teens terrorized by the iconic killer, Leatherface.
As busy as he was, Balfour was still looking for that one role that would take his career to the next level; unfortunately, a combination of luck and ratings did not seem to be on his side. A regular cast role on the ambitious but short-lived adventure series "Veritas: The Quest" (ABC, 2003-04) preceded a pair of even briefer series attempts - "Fearless" (The WB, 2004) and "Hawaii" (NBC, 2004) - prior to his picking up a recurring role as the trouble-making boyfriend of Theresa Diaz (Navi Rawat) on a few episodes of the popular teen drama "The O.C." (Fox, 2003-07). Attempting to transition into features, Balfour went on to appear in more films, including writer-director Ariel Vromen's feature debut "Rx" (2005), co-starring Colin Hanks and Lauren German - which Balfour also co-produced - and the sexually explicit romantic-drama "Lie with Me" (2005) opposite Lauren Lee Smith. After co-starring in the L.A.-centric romantic melodrama "Sex, Love & Secrets" (UPN, 2005) - cancelled after only four episodes - Balfour landed a regular role on another barely-seen show, the legal drama "Conviction" (NBC, 2006), starring as the womanizing Brian Peluso, just one of a group of hotshot young assistant district attorneys in New York. Also a talented musician and vocalist for the band Fredalba, the multi-faceted Balfour released his first record, Uptown Music for Downtown Kids in 2006.
In 2007, Balfour returned as Milo Pressman for the sixth season of the long-running "24," during which his affections for a coworker led to dangerous errors in judgment at CTU. The following year, the actor co-starred in the outlaw biker movie "Hell Ride" (2008), an attempt to revisit the popular exploitation genre of the '60s, written and directed by Balfour's co-star Larry Bishop and co-produced by grindhouse movie aficionado, Quentin Tarantino. In a more modest turn, he also appeared as the boyfriend of femme fatale Sand Saref (Eva Mendes) in writer-director Frank Miller's critically-reviled adaptation of comic book legend Will Eisner's "The Spirit" (2008). After starring in the made-for-TV horror movie "Rise of the Gargoyles" (Syfy, 2009) Balfour picked up a recurring role on the supernatural miniseries "Valemont" (MTV, 2009), on which he played a student at an exclusive and secretive New England college, who may or may not have died under mysterious circumstances. In what began a trend of appearing in low-budget genre material, he later starred in the Roger Corman schlockfest "Dinoshark" (2010) and "Skyline" (2010), a sci-fi thriller in which Balfour and a group of friends find themselves trapped in a Los Angeles high-rise during an alien invasion.
Steadier work came when Balfour joined the cast of another television series, "Haven" (Syfy, 2010-15), a supernatural drama loosely based on the Stephen King novella The Colorado Kid about a small coastal community in Maine plagued by a malevolent affliction the townspeople refer to as "The Troubles." As local smuggler and bar owner Duke Crocker, he frequently found himself involved in the odd cases being investigated by Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), a former FBI agent recently arrived in Haven. Between filming the first and second seasons of his new show, Balfour also managed to find time to star in the based-on-fact Western adventure "The Legend of Hell's Gate: An American Conspiracy" (2011).
By Bryce Coleman