Debi Mazar Interview
Debi Mazar, Entourage's salty-mouthed publicist, talks about her wild days, Madonna and the press in Hollywood.
Q: Did you base Shauna on a publicist you've known?
Mazar: I've based Shauna on several people that have been in and out of my life professionally, and then added my own little Debi Mazar touch to it.
I've been a working actor for twenty years. I've had high-powered publicists in my career, and I've had publicists when they've had no power. I've run the gamut. You have publicists that are passionate. You have publicists that just collect the money and don't do sh*t.
Not every one is a ball-breaker like Shauna, who is fun for me to play. And, you know, her ball-breaking, her aggressiveness, doesn't come out being an a**hole, it comes out of being passionate. It's kind of a big sister or maternal type of friendship that she has with Vince.
Q: Do you feel like you live the lifestyle of an L.A. celebrity?
Mazar: Well, I'm not experiencing any of this for the first time--I'm probably ten years older than the guys. The business has changed as far as the perception of celebrity.
Before, you know, you were a working actor and it was cool, and people knew who you were. Now there's all this tabloid bulls**t and perks that didn't happen before. People are basically interested in who is having sex with who, what they're wearing, how they're living. There's a lot of 'we have to hide this from the press' and 'this can't be known.' It's like: Can we just make the f**king movie?
For me, I don't have a publicist. I don't want to talk about my personal life. I don't want to talk about my process. I don't want to be a model and do fashion shoots. It's nice to be an entertainer, but I'm a reluctant celebrity.
When I play Shauna, I try to play somebody who cares, because I find that to a lot of people, you're just a f**king number, you know. If you're doing well, they love you. And if you're not doing well, they'll take the check, but they're not going to push you as a client.
Q: Publicists seem to play a bigger role in managing careers than they used to.
Mazar: It's much more manipulative, but it's not as protective as it used to be. I mean, do I really need to read about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie f**king so wildly in some South African hotel that security had to come down? And, not that I care, but I thought, how terrible that Jennifer Anniston would hear something like that.
You know, Madonna and I were very, very close for twenty, twenty-five years, and I felt that, aside from any problems she might have had in her marriage, the media adds so much pressure to celebrities' personal lives that it's really destructive. I miss journalism and witty writing and people being creative. So playing Shauna is kind of fun for me, because I truly have a love/hate thing with the press. And she can be kind of gross in some ways. She says the meanest things about people. Sometimes there'll be a fat joke about someone or something and I'll be like, 'Doug, I can't say this.' And he just says, 'Say it, it's funny.' And I'm thinking: oh god, oh god, oh god.
Q: So is this the authentic L.A. we're seeing on the show?
Mazar: Oh yeah, it is really authentic. Maybe all of the girls in the background don't need to all look like hoochie-chicks, but I think that's part of the joke. The situations are very authentic, to the point of uncovering some undesirable aspects of the business.
Like it shows that desperation that so many people can identify with. The percentage of people who get to work is so incredibly small, it's shocking. That's why Johnny's character is so funny and sad all wrapped up. I love that aspect of the show.
And people don't realize how some of these deals are made, how ridiculous they are. Like they'll throw in a Hummer for the big star. You get so far from just the actor's desire to do a good job portraying a character.
Q: Even the wicked characters like Ari and Shauna are somewhat likeable on Entourage. Why do you think that is?
Mazar: I think the characters are well written and well acted and people can kind of relate to them. You read about stuff like this in the papers, in the tabloids. You look at the front page of the Drudge Report and it'like, 'Oh, yeah, there was a bombing, but did you know Paula Abdul is being pulled off American Idol?' It's insane.
Q: But isn't it funny to think of people relating to characters living such a surreal life?
Mazar: Maybe not relate to it, but you understand it, and you recognize it does exist. It's part of our culture.
You know I live in Italy part time, and when I put the TV on, they're obsessed with what's happening in L.A. too. They make fun of Americans, but the world wants to know what's going on in Hollywood.
Q: Does L.A. seem strange when you come home?
Mazar: Yes. Italy allows me to stay in L.A. [LAUGHS] It buys me a few more months.
Q:How much time do you spend there?
Mazar: Three or four months of the year. I've always been someone who can just move. Some people in L.A. are addicted. They have to be here, they come for pilot season and stay here. My personal life is stronger than my professional life, in terms of priorities.
Q: It's not like it's killed your career.
Mazar: Well, I think my career would probably be in a better place had I been more aggressive. But I don't have it in me. I'm not a competitive person, and I'm also really private.
Before I met my husband, I had my wild days and had affairs with people that are well known, but I never talked about it and no one ever cared about it because I've never put myself out there.
But you know, I stumbled on a chart in the trades once that said that from the 1990-2000 I was one of the ten actors in the United States who had worked the most.
Q: What did your husband think of the scene here when he moved to L.A.?
Mazar: It's funny, when we met in Italy, I said, 'Hon, you need to come to L.A. and see my life, because you might have a different opinion of me when you see me at full swing.'
I was doing an hour drama on television and a Jackie Chan movie in Toronto, so I was on a plane every three days.
He had no idea about the Hollywood hustle and how crazy it is here, and how stereotypical it is. Let's do lunch. Oh yeah, I love it. Let's hang out. I'll help you. No one gives a s**t about anybody here. Everyone fights for themselves. You have to be really focused, obsessed with your career. He cracks up because he's got a wicked sense of humor.
Everything here revolves around the working thing. When I first came to L.A., I found it interesting. I read the trades and I could enjoy following the projects. Now I feel more like: 'Just get me the script.'
Q: But you seem to have found a way to keep it interesting.
Mazar: I like acting. I really like acting. The career, it can keep you interested. With 'Entourage,' the characters are living a lifestyle that is kind of troubling. But the challenge is to make Shauna a person.
In episode one this season, there's a scene where Piven tells Eric, you tell your client that he takes 'Aquaman' or he can find himself a new agent. It's like he's saying, 'This is all fluffy and fun, but at the end of the day, this is a business. Don't f**k around.' And you see a vulnerability on his face, like he's thinking, I might lose this client. He has a realness to him.
I try to create some real moments like that with Adrian on the set.
Q: How do you like being the only woman cast member on a guy show?
I kind of feel like one of the guys on Sex and the City. You'd see Kim Cattrall's boyfriend or David Eigenberg or Mario Cantone, but you can't figure out what they're going to do with them.