The film follows 14-year-old paparazzo Austin Visschedyk, who Grenier uses as his ticket into a circle that's closed off to outsiders. "He was a perfect way to infiltrate the paparazzi because he wasn't jaded and was open to the change," Grenier tells TVGuide.com. But he also makes it clear the documentary isn't about exploiting the paparazzi to paint them in a negative light. "I was really looking to find a constructive understanding of who they are," he says.
The 34-year-old talks about why his friends weren't originally on board for the project, how the experience changed his perception of his own fame, and what he hopes people will take away from the film. Plus: What does he think about an Entourage movie?
TVGuide.com: Did you have any idea what you were getting into when you decided to explore the paparazzi world?
Adrian Grenier: I had a sense of how crazy this world of paparazzi is and, moreover, how insanely vast and complex the [relationship] with the media can be. I had read a book called Mediated which made me think about it in a completely different way. I give the book a lot of credit for preparing to explore this subject matter and I don't know if I would've noticed Austin in the same way. When I saw Austin, he was a glaring example of how media, and tabloid media in particular, has affected him and all of us.
TVGuide.com: Were you nervous about how people would respond to you making this documentary?
Grenier: Yeah, I got a lot of flak from people. My managers would call me, the guys on Entourage, like, "You've lost it. Don't rock the boat, these guys can come retaliate." I understand their concerns, but they didn't know that I wasn't looking to do an "I gotcha" piece on the paparazzi. I was really looking to find a constructive understanding of who they are.
TVGuide.com: Why did you choose to follow Austin?
Grenier: One thing I saw in Austin is his innocence. He had not yet been corrupted. He's still pure in some way and open to ideas and influence. He was a perfect way to infiltrate the paparazzi because he wasn't jaded and was open to the change. I was really pleased when he embraced the experience we had together.
TVGuide.com: What surprised you most about paparazzi?
Grenier: Paparazzi, they're just like us. Stars can be a commodity, a paycheck; they don't see you as human beings. They even call it fishing. Paparazzi can invade your space, lurking in the bushes ready to attack. I was very purposely trying to [bring to the] surface the human side of the paparazzi and the celebrities.
TVGuide.com: Does it change your perception of your own fame?
Grenier: Absolutely. I think this exploration was a way for me to process and gain perspective on my experience because it is an unusual experience. There's no guidebook, no how-to, so everybody finds themselves in this position and has to deal with it in their own way. I happen to make a movie, and I use film as a tool of self exploration and philosophical questioning.
TVGuide.com: What do you want people to take away from the film?
Grenier: The thing I learned, and hopefully can share with the audience, is that we all have a personal choice. We all have to share responsibility for the media — to create and consume and, especially now with camera phones and Internet, we can all project images and ideas and tell stories. It's just a matter of personal choice about what kind of stories we want to tell.
TVGuide.com: Do you want to continue to direct?
Grenier: I plan on it [but] I want to act still.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of acting, after Vince hit rock-bottom on this season of Entourage, how would you like him to go out in the final season?
Grenier: I hope he can dig himself out of it. I hope he doesn't go too far down the deep end. You can't take anything for granted because everything seems stable. All of a sudden, one thing can set you off.
TVGuide.com: Thoughts about an Entourage movie?
Grenier: I think we'd all be excited to see a movie.
Teenage Paparazzo premieres Sept. 27th at 9/8c on HBO.