TV Guide: Entourage is all about learning to swim with the Hollywood sharks. Is show business really as crazy as it looks on the show?
Jeremy Piven: Honestly, I've been apprenticing for so long in this industry, it just seems normal. I've been around artists and actors since I was 8 because my parents ran an actors' workshop in Chicago. Mom and Dad always had the utmost respect for the profession, and they taught me to value the work, which definitely helps me now that I see it ain't rosy all the time.
TV Guide: Agents must either cheer or throw forks when they see you.
Piven: Most of them are very pleased by the character I play. It's fun for them to have a reference for relatives back home, to say, hey, this is sorta what we do. What's flattering is when they whisper, "I know who you're doing, he's in my agency," because there really isn't anybody in particular I have in mind when I play Ari. But it tells me I'm doing something right.
TV Guide: Do people expect you to be the life of the party now?
Piven: Too bad I'm more boring than most people assume. Most nights, I just want to lay low and read a book. That's what's really sexy to me. The weird misconception since Entourage started is that if I pop into a place, I'll be killing it there to a million o'clock. But when we're working, I'm so exhausted, I'm usually done by 11. The days of me waking up on someone's stove with a tequila bottle leaning against my skull are definitely over.
TV Guide: But what about the recent photo of you literally carrying Las Vegas star Vanessa Marcil late at night. What was that about?
Piven: Listen, she's been my friend for 10 years now, and I don't believe either of us were drinking. It was simply one of those moments where I was carrying a buddy. I guess I forgot I was famous and that I had parked my car around the corner. Suddenly it turned into a long sprint with 11 paparazzi backpedaling, so it probably looked weird.
TV Guide: At the risk of sounding like your grandmother, you're 40 and single. Can't you settle down and find a nice girl?
Piven: Wouldn't that be great? I think one of the things that's stopping me is this strange perception of me. I'm a mama's boy, but people tend to think I'm cooler and in love with independence. The reality is, I would so welcome to have anything near what my parents have or what my [married] sister has. Instead, I'm the guy in the corner at family reunions playing with the bulldog and somebody else's baby.
TV Guide: By the way, what's up with that Travel Channel show Jeremy Piven's Journey of a Lifetime, where you're communing with swamis in India? It all seemed very un-Ari.
Piven: I think that was purposeful. The trip was a chance to hook into things I really connect with exploration, talking to people, the improvisational element of everyday life. I love and respect yoga, and so I wanted to go to India.
TV Guide: What's coming up for Entourage's Ari this season?
Piven: The big thing is, he's so heavily invested in Vince's career, it's causing him stress. Now that he's out on his own, the relationship means more to him than it does to Vince, in a way. Ari also has a situation where he's owed an enormous amount of money from his old job and not having that cash has put the squeeze on his relationship with his wife and every other part of his life. He's a basket case.
TV Guide: How do you channel Ari?
Piven: Before, I would never spend much time getting into the head of a shark, but I'm finding it fascinating. The key is getting in touch with my ADD. Ari's attention deficit is so advanced, it's like riding a bullet train, so I lock into his distractedness. The trick, though, is that I still have to remain in the moment and love whatever Ari is doing. So basically, to play Ari is to embrace him. I throw my arms around him and love whatever drives him.
TV Guide: You seem to be the opposite of Ari. How can you stand him?
Piven: C'mon, man! The guy's freaking hilarious!
For Jeremy Piven's reaction to his Emmy nomination including the scoop on his ideal date for the big night pick up the new TV Guide.
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