About Eric Szmanda
Born July 24, 1975 in Milwaukee, WI, and raised with two brothers in nearby Mukwonago, Szmanda got a small taste of the performing life from his great-uncle, Ray Szmanda, who achieved regional celebrity as a local radio and television announcer, as well as the on-camera star of a string of commercials for a chain of home improvement stores. Uncle Ray's popularity must have appealed to Szmanda, as he gravitated towards drama in high school, and attended Carroll College, a private liberal arts school in his home state. After graduating in 1997, Szmanda relocated to Los Angeles, taking classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts while maintaining an internship at music publishers BMG. This later blossomed into a full-time job for the avowed music buff (Szmanda's musical expertise would later contribute to his role as a music consultant on the 2001 feature "Life as a House").
Any fledgling music career was quickly cast to the side when Szmanda landed his first full-time acting job on "The Net" (USA, 1998-99) - an action-drama based on the 1998 Sandra Bullock thriller. As skateboarding hacker Jacob "Sorcerer" Hesh (a character not too far removed from his future "C.S.I." character, Greg Sanders), Szmanda's "aw-shucks" demeanor and fast way with a quip helped audiences warm to him quickly, even if they didn't take to "The Net" in droves. In 1999, Szmanda also booked the lead in his first feature, a low-budget independent film titled "Dodge's City." In interviews, he frequently mentioned that the producer of his first film advised him to change his last name (which is pronounced like "Amanda").
Guest shots on TV series like "The Division" (Lifetime, 2001-04) and in features like "The Rules of Attraction" (2002) came shortly after "The Net," but Szmanda's big break would come in 2001 when he landed the biggest role of his career up until that time - Greg Sanders on "CSI." Originally a semi-recurring role, Greg was one of several lab techs whom the main investigators consulted in the course of solving their weekly cases. But, due to Szmanda's charm, Sanders - a teenage nerd turned self-conscious hipster - won over audiences with his sly humor and nice-guy looks, which were well utilized in his scenes with William Petersen (as Greg's mentor, chief CSI Gil Grissom) and Jorja Fox (as Sara Sidle, the object of Greg's unrequited crush). His popularity with both the show's writers and fans helped Sanders to finally step out of the lab and become a full-time investigator during the series' fifth season.
Since "CSI," Szmanda found time to appear in only a handful of other projects - most notably a 2003 video for Marilyn Manson's song "(s)AINT," which was directed by actress Asia Argento. Szmanda also logged roles in a largely panned indie feature called "Little Athens" (2005) and shared screen time with Mary Tyler Moore in a Christmas-themed TV movie, "Snow Wonder," from the same year. He also provided the voice of Greg in several of the "CSI"-related video games, and has returned to the theater on several occasions, most notably in a Hollywood production of the one-man show "Hyenas." Ever mindful of mining for future projects, Szmanda also headed up his own production company called "doop," described by its CEO as "combining acting with music."