Jeremy Piven has made a career out of dorky sidekicks (''Serendipity'') and fast-talking jerks (''Old School''). But he steals the spotlight in HBO's ''Entourage'' as Hollywood shark Ari Gold. The role marks a promising return to TV for the former ''Ellen'' regular, who won critics' hearts but struck out with viewers as a leading man (albeit one who thinks he's the god of love) in 1998's short-lived ABC dramedy ''Cupid.'' EW chatted with Piven about heading back to TV...as an agent.
Word is your character is loosely based on series exec producer Mark Wahlberg’s agent, Ari Emanuel.
I want to make this very clear: This character is not a depiction of Ari Emanuel. You take the strangest and the best and the worst from all [Hollywood players] to create this beast.... [The character] Ari is this angel/devil who can tear you apart in one moment and the next just celebrate you.
What will we learn about him this season?
We explore his home life...and things at home are different from what you'd expect. He's married, and her name is Mrs. Ari -- she insists on being called Mrs. Ari. They have kids.
The show has had cameos from the likes of Jessica Alba, Ali Larter, and Luke Wilson. Any good upcoming appearances?
Larry David plays himself as one of my clients, and that was one of the best days of my life. Going toe-to-toe with that freak was fantastic. I love to improvise, and the script just said, like, ''Larry David's here and it's time to begin the scene.'' He'd just throw out a couple of ideas...and then it's just game on, man.
Have you gotten any feedback from real agents about Ari?
Every once in a while if I run into an agent, I can see that they feel like I've touched upon something they recognize. That's gratifying to meit's good to be recognized by the world we're depicting.
How does your agent feel about it?
You know what's so unbelievably ironic? I don't have an agent. I'm between agents. I don't have an agent, I don't have a girlfriend, and I don't have an entourage.