Jeremy Piven Interview
Q: What do you think it is that makes Ari so irresistible for fans?
Piven: You know, it's funny, I've never been one to talk my way into getting a role, and I certainly wouldn't be able to articulate well why this character is watchable. I just like doin' it, man. For me, the high is just doing it and letting you see it.
Q: What about from your perspective -- what is it about the role that appeals to you?
Piven: Unfortunately, I've been around this energy for many years in this town, you know. I've come face to face with this energy many times, so I know it in my bones. Maybe that's why I have an inkling of how to make this guy live.
Q: Still there's something weirdly likeable about him.
Piven: Well, that's the beauty of people, you know, the complexity of each person. Even the most angelic person you ever would meet has to have some tragic flaw, no?
That's why I think everyone is interesting in their own way, they really are. I mean, why is it that if you watch a hidden camera, people are still fascinating?
Q: You live full time in L.A.?
Piven: I live in L.A. and Chicago.
Q: So you haven't really taken up the L.A. lifestyle yourself?
Piven: No, I never was that guy.
Q: Is there anything about the Entourage-style Hollywood life you find attractive?
Piven: I think what's attractive is Mark Wahlberg's loyalty, you know? It has a real sense of un-Hollywood to me; the people are very straight to each other. They'll call each other out. Whereas in this town, I think people are very leery of other people, of confrontation, of other people speaking the truth to them.
In Mark's crew, people are going off on each other left and right; there's a lot of history there, and there's family. I think that kind of connection, the authenticity, translates into our show. Whatever Ari says or however abrasive he is, he wants Vinnie's career to explode.
Q: Vinnie says he could walk away any time...
Piven: I think the lack of desperation is why people gravitate toward someone like Vinnie Chase. Because once that desperation takes over, it takes away your strength and power. Vince just doesn't have that need to be there. There's a very authentic air of strength.
Q: So can you be an actor working in Hollywood and not get sucked in?
Piven: I think you can choose any life you want. I think that's kind of what you learn as you get older. You don't have to give in to any one particular lifestyle. If going out and being in the Hollywood scene makes you unhappy, you don't have to do it. You can be an artist and do your own thing and have your friends and not be a part of that. Or you can run in it, have a good a time, see it for what it is - get in and get out.
Q: Do you feel you've been able to do that?
Piven: I feel like it. I really do. I mean, I made myself a promise not to come out here unless I had a job. I was on the stage in Chicago and I was brought out here to do some series TV and then I would go back and immediately do a play. Then when I'd get the call, I'd head back out there. I stayed in Chicago until the moment I had to be out here year round.
I'd do nine months on a series and three doing movies; I crammed thirty-five movies into those hiatuses. I've been working without stopping for a while. So, you know, I'm not immersed in that scene - I've been lucky enough to be busy.
HBO: You've said that you consider yourself a stage actor. What do you see as the differences in the two worlds?
Piven: In front of the camera, it's a very precise science. You have to hold in your energy and somehow make it appropriate, and you're shooting out of sequence, so you have to husband your energy throughout the day and explode at the right times.
On stage you have the entire house. You're sitting and breathing the same air. You're being seen from head to toe and you get a running start on the piece. They're quite different beasts.
HBO: Just before filming season two, you starred in Neil LaBute's 'Fat Pig.' Did you find it difficult to pull yourself off that stage?
Piven: You know it wasn't. I needed to get out of it, because is was so unbelievably emotionally draining. I was breaking up with a very heavy woman on the beach every night. And, you know, weeping like a bitch. You try breaking up with someone eight shows a week. They had to f**king peel me off that stage. I couldn't do a year of that show.