The “Entourage” fellas still have each others' backs.
Four years after wrapping an eight-season run as the central characters of the HBO comedy-drama, Vince, E, Turtle and Johnny Drama are still rolling deep through ever-shifting highs and lows of Hollywood, this time on the big screen.
In the “Entourage” feature film, which opens today nationwide, the crew navigates a new set of challenges, both personal – from Eric's baby-mama drama to, literally, dating out of their fighting weight, in the case of a rocky Turtle/Ronda Rousey romance – and professional – from newly minted studio head Ari Gold protecting Vince's latest movie with fickle film financiers to Drama fretting that his finest hour may end up in the Deleted Scenes section. But one thing remains constant: their unbreakable bro code of mutual support.
That vibe is just as potent behind the scenes, as indicated when Spinoff Online took an audience with stars Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrera and Kevin Dillon and writer/director/creator Doug Ellin, who offered a peek at how they translated TV's favorite clique of showbiz movers, shakers and hangers-on.
Note: The story contains minor spoilers regarding some of the film's celebrity cameos.
On the slow but steady journey to getting an “Entourage” movie made:
Doug Ellin: The rockiest road was getting the script right. The biggest tragedy – and reason I love doing this at the same time – is these are my close friends. They all have input, and when you have this whole group, you want everybody to be serviced in a movie – which on a half-hour television show, one week you can focus on Vince, one week you can focus on Turtle, and you can switch around. When you’re doing a movie for 90 minutes, it was a challenge to do that, and keep it moving and keep it paced.
The reason of doing it is, honestly, because we love it. We get to be with our friends, we get to be in great locations and meet really interesting people. As you guys all know, the cameos that come on the show are everything from friends of our to idols of ours that we admire and respect. The whole process of doing it is like when you get back together with your best friends from high school. It’s just something you do because you enjoy it.
Just like your friends, I don’t think we’ve run out of anything to say, because it really is just these guys and what these journeys are in life together. We’ll keep doing it as long as people are interested.
On the evolution, and current state, of Vincent Chase's crew:
Adrian Grenier: I think the one thing about this crew that’s so special is that, despite all of the changes, despite all of the ups and downs, there’s still something that remains steadfast, which is their loyalty to each other; and I think Vince certainly has inspired, I guess, a generosity amongst them, and I think now in the movie they get to give back a little bit and support Vince in his attempt to take the next step in his career as a director.
Kevin Connolly: E and Sloan are taking a big jump in this movie and adding a new tiny member to the entourage. It’s a big step for anybody in real life. Certainly for my character, for E and Sloan to be having a baby. It’s a big deal. [Emmanuelle Chriqui's] has been awesome since the beginning.
Kevin Dillon: My character has probably changed the least amount. … He’s still striving for the same thing. He wants fame – not really fortune, so much, but he’s all about the fame, and he’s still striving for that. But that’s what I love about him. I don’t want him to change too much, because he’s a lot of fun.
Jerry Ferrara: I feel that Turtle is maybe the last to even start the evolution process. But I like to go back to the early, early years of the character, where he was telling girls to make out with him, show them where Vince eats breakfast in the morning, to dating Jamie Lynn [Sigler], who was out of his league, to then becoming basically a millionaire. I used to joke around with Doug all the time, like: When’s Turtle going to grow up a little more? He would always say, "Season 8" – this is in Season 2. I don’t think we ever thought we’d get to Season 8. When it was Season 8, I said, "Doug, it’s time."
Grenier: In the later seasons of the show we actually spent less and less time together in the scenes and we had our own storylines. It was really refreshing to go back to that in the movie. I miss showing up and seeing these guys and knowing we’ll have this oner or walk-and-talk, because there’s such an ease to being able to act off of them. It was nice that Doug announced we were going back to an earlier vibe and trying to get back to some of the group antics.
Connolly: The movie goes back to Seasons 1 and 2, when we’re together every second.
On the unexpectedly universal relatability of the guys' inside-Hollywood adventures:
Ellin: When we started the show it was seen through E’s eyes, which is supposed to be the Everyman that we can all relate to. This show is just about friendship. If they were firemen in Chicago or baseball players in Wisconsin, it doesn’t matter. It’s really about the guys, and the backdrop obviously gives us a lot of material and beautiful scenery. But at the end of the day it’s really about friends who grew up together, are fish out of water and are taking this ride together.
Ferrara: I wondered if some of the jokes or storylines would get lost in people who didn’t live in LA or have any experience. But you’d be surprised at how many people are obsessed with some of the inner workings of the business. You wonder if they are getting it or is it translating, and it definitely was. More then I even thought.
Connolly: I remember after we did the “Sundance” episode, getting calls from 10 of my friends from Long Island going, “We’re going to Sundance!” [laughs] “We’re going to Sundance!” I’m like, "No you’re not going to Sundance. You’re not going to get in anywhere, you’re going to be standing out in the cold. Don’t do it." I think we opened a lot of people’s eyes to lots of different aspects of the business.
Grenier: It’s also a testament to how layered the show is. There’s something for everyone. And even if you don’t get the jokes, you can still enjoy it. But for those that are in the industry they get a lot more of the subtle inside jabs and pokes.
Dillon: I remember saying to Doug, "I don’t know if anyone will get this outside of Hollywood." He's like, "We don’t care. We’re going to put it in and they’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about it."
Ellin: I think it’s like anything else: If you’re authentic, real, then people will get into it, then they’ll find out the things they are looking for.
Connolly: Lots of people have looked at us as a group and go, “Hey listen, if these guys can do it, why not us?” So let’s move out to California together and give it a run.
On the agony and ecstasy of a Johnny Drama audition:
Dillon: I have been through many bad auditions. I did one with Rhea Perlman – it was so bad. I smoked cigarettes back then, and it was five flights down. So I ran downstairs to have a cigarette and someone said, “Hey! They’re calling you!” So I ran to the top of the steps. I went in there and I was huffing and puffing. I was sweating. And it just looked like I was a nervous wreck. It was just awful.
Ferrara: Johnny Drama auditions are a must-watch. It’s an event watching. I always get excited watching -- I can’t wait to see what Kevin is going to do in it. He never lets down.
Ellin: I think actually one of my favorite scenes in the movie, which was a last-minute add-in, is where Chad Lowe and David Faustino [audition alongside Drama] – it’s so realistic. I was an actor for about 30 seconds when I first got out here. It’s a really realistic scene to what goes on when you’re going on these things.
Dillon: I think [Drama] will [find happiness in Hollywood]. In the end it’s all about the fellas and the guys. He’s got a big heart. He’d do anything for the guys. That’s not all he is about, but that is his main goal.
Ellin: Drama, as much as he is on the surface about his fame and success, the truth is he’s about his brother as much as him if not more and the guys. I think that’s why people love him so much. He’s got heart. There’s been times when we’ve been shooting and a high school bus full of kids just drive by and see Dillon and just start screaming "Victory!"
Connolly: If Johnny Drama had an IMDb page, it would be pretty impressive.
On perpetuating “Entourage's” masterful art of the celebrity cameo:
Ellin: The process works in such amazing ways. Everything from Kevin Connolly’s friends with the Los Angeles Kings and says they want to come down, so I figure out some way to getting them in, to literally I get a call on the set that Clay Matthews is supposed to be at a wedding but he swears he’ll miss it if we put him in the movie, so we tell him to come on down.
[Sportscaster] Jim Gray was on the set and said, “How is Mike Tyson not in the movie?” and I said, “Oh, my God.” I can’t believe it. I called Mike, and he was on set six hours later and we put him in. None of it is done for stunts or extra people to come in. It’s absolutely done it the most authentic way that it would be. I went to screen the movie at Mark’s [Wahlberg] house. Mark called me up and said, “I want to see the movie.” I get there and Kevin Durand answers the door. Everything is really done authentically to the life out here, and certainly to the life of a movie star.
Ferrara: I don’t think [Doug] has gotten the proper credit for just working these cameos in and it’s part of the story, it’s part of the world.
Dillon: Sometimes they’ll pawn it off on the actor, though. "Hey, Dillon! We got Jon Favreau coming in! You guys got to figure something out."
Ellin: We have made up stuff on the spot, and again, it’s crazy you've got giant Rob Gronkowski waiting around to do his scene and Mike [Tyson] brings his daughter and we try to figure all of that stuff out. Honestly, it’s like a party. Gronkowski, who I love – at the end of the night Rob was serving soup to the extras because he was having a great time. That’s kind of how it always is.
Liam Neeson is different because he was one of those wish lists, how do we go get him? I called [Warner Bros. executives] Jon Berg and Greg Silverman: “Is there any way to get Liam Neeson in this movie?” So Jon called me and said "Liam is in." Either his son loves the show, or I don’t even know, but Liam came and he was great! These cameos come, they aren’t doing it for money because we’re not really paying them – union rates, obviously. Liam showed up and he had a great time. We’ve always had people who want to be there and it was a pleasure.
Connolly: When the show first started, particularly the first season, it was near impossible to get anybody to do it. We were sitting around thinking, "Who do we know? Who can we call? Who will do this?" Because people are afraid of what they don’t know. At that point, nobody knew what the show was, so people were a little confused, I believe our first was Ali Larter. Ali Larter was the first one to step in. To get a cameo in a pilot is a tricky thing.
On the planned real-life “Aquaman” movie, starring Jason Momoa:
Grenier: He should slim down a bit. [Laughs] Because the friction in the water is going to be a problem for him.
Ferrara: James Cameron wanted a more fluid swimmer. We’re going against what James Cameron says, so I wish them well.
Ellin: It is amazing that they are making that movie. I look forward to it. When Lev [producer Stephen Levinson] and I first came up with that idea for “Aquaman,” what’s the one superhero that seems like there’s no way to make it a good movie, and then James Cameron makes it and it sounds like a great movie?
On the allure of an actual entourage:
Ellin: The premise of an entourage – the reason you see it with so many athletes and movie stars, which is why they really relate to this: when someone makes it like Vince and Chase makes it, the bottom-feeders just come out, and they just reach for them and try to take everything from them. I think especially for guys or women who have come from humble beginnings, they want to surround themselves around the people that were there for them when they had nothing. Because they know they can count on them and trust them. It is about surrounding yourself around people you can trust.
Ferrara: For men and women, that’s a big wish fulfillment -- that life would allow you to just wake up every single day and be like, "All right, where are my four friends I grew up with?" I wish that could be the case. Doug did such a good job. I would trade places with that part of the show.
Connolly: We’re also a team, we work together. Literally work together. I work for Vince. We’re one unit. To spend that kind of time together, we’re basically a giant corporation with different positions.
Dillon: We all have our place. We like to hang together. We don’t have 9-to-5 jobs. “What else are we going to do? What are you guys up to? I’ll come join you.” I actually do that with my friends.
Ellin: In two weeks we’re going to have a friends-and-family screening in New York, and I think anyone who’s there will know how loyal and lucky this group is because all of us will have our friends. The amount of names and characters who have been named after my friends and their friends from elementary school and on. Between all of us we’ll probably have about 150 people that we know from kindergarten, elementary school, high school. It’s what’s reflected in the show.