After a flurry of smaller appearances (Grosse Pointe Blank, Old School and erm, Scary Movie 3), it was the role of movie agent Ari Gold in HBO series Entourage that launched Jeremy Piven into the mainstream.
We spoke with Piven about fights, shopping for cologne and hanging out with Mike Tyson.
Harry Selfridge and Ari Gold step into the ring. Who are you backing?
Seeing that Ari Gold is an incredibly reactive, fierce beast, I think that his quick abilities would make him a little unstoppable for Harry. If it was a UFC caged match, I think that Ari would go hard and wear himself out, but Harry would wait for his moment then go for the chokehold.
You step into Selfridges – what’s the first thing you buy?
Traditionally, I go for the Tom Ford cologne. I don’t have a lot of endurance as a shopper though.
What’s the proudest moment of your career so far?
I think that I’ve gotten better as an actor with the cast of Mr Selfridge. It’s made me raise my game so much that when I went back and did the Entourage movie, I think Ari was firing on even more cylinders than usual.
Can we expect a lot of Ari Gold one-liners in the coming Entourage film?
Believe me, the movie is chock-full of them. I think everyone will be satisfied. I was in London last year and watched a rough copy with a friend who has never seen the show, and she was laughing her way through it. I think the characters are so completely accessible – they’re such archetypes. Everyone knows a Johnny Drama.
Do you have a favourite Ari one-liner?
I can’t repeat them. I run lines with my mother to this day – can you imagine running some of the lines I say to Lloyd with your mother? It would be a nightmare for anyone.
By the way, hearing my mother play Turtle is epic.
If you could play any other character from Entourage, which would you choose?
You'll think I’m insane for saying this, but I would give Rex Lee a run for his money playing Lloyd. If I was you, I would watch Rush Hour in which I play a gay character. If I were to attempt to play Asian, it would be a disaster – but I could play a very ambitious gay assistant.
Film versions of TV shows can be tricky - do you stick to the TV show formula or do you make it more cinematic? What was Entourage creator Doug Ellin's approach?
We always attempted it to be very filmic. We got all our heroes on the show: James Cameron; Frank Darabont; Sydney Pollack; Scorsese. It’s ridiculous that these guys showed up for us.
The jump to the big screen was a natural progression because at the very end of the series, we see that Ari’s marriage is solid again, yet he decides to take the job and run the studio: to be “God.” That’s an organic proposal that’s going to elevate the stakes – so when he takes that job, it’s a bigger version of the Ari Gold world… yeah, madness ensues.
What’s your favourite memory from the set?
I remember doing a scene with Mike Tyson and the director didn’t quite know how to navigate him. I had the pleasure of rehearsing with him and took him under my wing. He’s the youngest heavyweight champion of the world, I love boxing and grew up watching him so it was surreal. It was an incredible experience.
Out of all the cameos, who surprised you the most?
In the new film, there are so many people ranging from Thierry Henry to Liam Neeson, who is being incredibly self-deprecating. He was such a sweetheart. It’s so funny that he’s become this brutal action figure because he’s just the nicest guy in the world.
Entourage is released on June 19. The complete box set, seasons 1-8, is now available exclusively with Sky Box Sets.