Vincent Chase is used to looking to the left and seeing his brother Drama staring at himself in the shop windows, looking to the left and seeing his manager-friend Eric on the phone, making a deal, and jumping in the car with Turtle ready at the wheel.
Adrian Grenier has played Vince for eight happy seasons of Entourage
But no longer. The final episode of Entourage has wrapped, so after eight glorious seasons, the actors - Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara - not to mention their irrepressible agent Ari Gold (aka Jeremy Piven) - must prepare to go their separate ways. Will they cope any better than their on-screen counterparts?
Below Grenier, who plays the heart-throb at the centre of the action, reflects on the final season and how Vince, and he, must finally learn to go it alone...
So are you completely wrapped on the whole thing?
For shooting, yeah.
So that’s eight years of your life?
Eight plus: nine when all is said and done.
How does it feel?
It’s bitter sweet, yes, but I still like to live in the moment and right now, we still have seven great episodes coming and once that’s done, there is a movie potentially and it seems inevitable. Besides that, I’m anxious to try new waters.
So the last time I saw Vincent, he was in terrible, terrible trouble. It was almost a cliff-hanger at the end of season seven. Without spoiling the storyline, I think we can set the storylines up without spoiling them; how does eight begin?
Well, obviously Vince has a lot to prove at this point. He has to show his friends, his community and the industry that this isn’t going to be something that is going to be a major problem for an extended period of time and that he is able to overcome and get back on top.
And that’s his sort of mission for –
For the first several episodes and then after that, he… Part of recovery is learning to make amends and get back. I think part of the happiness pursuit is really about giving back, which is part of the lessons I think, within the shows. It’s enough to indulge and to be selfish but true happiness is really when you start giving back.
To be fair to Vincent, no one has to take their mates with them out to Hollywood. No one has to look after their friends in the way that he does so he has kind of got that sort of; in terms of literally having the entourage, he is clearly a guy who wants to look after his friends and look after people?
Absolutely, and Vince has been pretty selfless for many years but I really think that his lapse into drugs was really fear: it was out of fear of losing his buddies and he was afraid of abandonment really as he was seeing his friends grow and branch out and go out on their own.
Vincent is in certain ways inspired by Mark Wahlberg and Mark Wahlberg’s group. How easy is it to work on a character for whom there is partly a real life inspiration?
Well, obviously I’m not Mark Wahlberg - I have much better abs [laughter] and I look much better in a pair of Calvin Kleins but when I saw Mark Wahlberg interacting with the world, I realised that his stardom was sort of a result of the movies he had done and the publicity that he had got and the work that he did. But really, what made him a movie star was his grace and his ability to interact with quote, unquote, ‘Common everyman’ and also people of influence and diplomats.
The success of Entourage is all about the chemistry between the four pals
It’s just that ability to manoeuvre between the people was really what I found to be the most striking quality. So people are famous because of what makes them unique, special and individual and they are not afraid; they’re not mimicking anybody. They are distinctly confident in their own selves. So I knew that I had to just be me: my version of somebody who had that kind of fluidity and grace and the stardom would just be written. Vince, a bunch of girls ask for his autograph and the paparazzi take his picture; boom, there you have a star but yeah, it’s much more. His stardom is greater than the publicity of it.
From the outside, I think we like to feel that it’s an insider’s view but you are an insider. How accurate a view of Hollywood is it?
Well, there are the ups and downs. That’s the business that we’re in and it is, I guess on some level, it’s surrounding something that’s relatively meaningless. We’re not saving babies; we’re making movies and creating illusions so I think it’s important not to get lost in those dramas but you know what? It is real. It’s a job and there are livelihoods at stake and really opulent lifestyles at stake; very indulgent lifestyles at stake. So while it’s not solving world hunger or creating world peace, it really is conflict for these guys in Hollywood.
You have worked on stuff that isn’t the conventional Hollywood fare…
It’s just where I am happier, in that space. It really is about this; we all have the right to pursue happiness and that’s a given right so in my opinion or at least in my experience, I find the shortest distance between yourself and happiness is about giving back and making sure that you are spending an ample amount of time for the social good. To simply be an indulgent, narcissistic, self involved narcissist: narcissistic narcissist. [Laughter]. Very, very narcissistic: narcissism squared.
To just care only about your fame, your fortune and getting your next movie; those are the pitfalls that I think Vince has at least taught me and at least hopefully, demonstrates are not what is important. What is important is family, friends, giving back to your community and finding meaning in life.
Did you find that your real life was spookily moving in the same way that elements of Vince’s life were moving?
I mean, they come and go, the parallels and sometimes they merge to be just my life and it’s hard to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not real but at a certain point, I don’t think it matters. In my documentary, I don’t know if you have seen it – Teenage Paparazzo was my most recent one. One of the main themes is about art and reality and these meta experiences that we all share, not just myself but we all see reflections of ourselves in the world and we all create media so reflections upon reflections but my particular hyper meta experiences playing a celebrity, becoming a celebrity to ultimately deconstruct celebrity as one of the themes.
It’s just where I have found security is in not trying to make a distinction but trying to blur the lines more so that you become a whole person. You become one with the playful identity crisis but it’s true: I have learned a lot from Vince where I’m like, ‘Oh, I can be a little more ambitious than I have been.’ Because for so long, I have been les au fait about my career, and then I see Vince who is maybe a little more focused or motivated or at least his people, and I know what I can expect a little bit. It’s almost a play by play; a manual for the business that I maybe shouldn’t admit that I have borrowed from at times.
Vince and E's friendship is under strain in the final season
So if we see the calls between Vince and Ari - is Entourage a role play for being an actor?
Absolutely. I’m sure if you did a study, agents are probably a little bit more scathing and a little bit more rude and cruel to their assistants than eight years ago. I would say they are more friends hanging onto their; or expecting stuff from their celebrity buddies and media and TV influences us, for sure, and hopefully for the better. It really is, we witness the dramas played out as a way to wrestle with our own demons and try to figure out the world as well as be entertained.
I was speaking to one of the writers earlier on who was saying that the original pitch for Entourage had been quite realistic and quite dark and they had to flip it a bit because there are some extremely dark aspects to anyone’s life in Hollywood.
It’s fantasy. It is a fantasy. I hope people recognise that. It’s heightened reality and it’s a half hour comedy so it’s the format and I think it’s an important format: the escapism, the indulgence but it does have a heart ultimately, a real heart. It’s not just a sitcom but there are real, genuine, touching relationships explored.
Without overly spoiling, what do you enjoy most about eight? Are there things that you would urge us to look out for: scenes, or…?
[Pause]. Well, that’s tough. This is maybe the most difficult season because we are sort of up against the demands or at least the awareness that it’s the last season. For me, it’s yet another great season ploughing ahead and it just happens to be the last one so I don’t feel like we did anything to be overly self aware of the end. It’s really, although, except for the last episode where it’s like, “Alright, we know it’s over so here it is. Here is the big button. Here is the bow.” So look out for the bow. The big bow in the sky.
And the celebrity count… Is this season as rammed with people playing themselves as previous seasons?
I don’t know if any more, if we have had any more cameos per square inch but yeah, nothing in particular.
Any people who you admired that you worked with?
Well, most recently Andrew Dice Clay who I was very happy that I got to do a couple of scenes with him. I grew up a big fan of his and he has been an idol of mine. He taught me some things that I probably shouldn’t have learned at a young age and then to see him on the show and to meet him personally, he is so generous. He has been a mentor in a lot of ways. He has really given me some great advice and encouraging words; unsolicited and just generously so I have really taken to him quite nicely.
Is it just a job or do you actually get to hang out as an entourage?
I’m curious to see what will happen now that the show is over because when you work with someone every day, you don’t necessarily run and hang out after work but we’ll see what happens now, although I do live in New York.
And how is the music going? Are you still –
I have a studio that I built and I have been playing and we’re actually doing an event in the Hamptons next week, this weekend actually; Saturday. So things are good.
Plans for the future?
Well, a lot of development which I can do relatively easily on my own so script writing or developing ideas. I am going to do a lot of that and see what sticks. I have a bunch of concepts and ideas that I want to do but I have also been growing my production company in general and looking to branch out of projects that I am directing and producing. And I’m starting to allow other people to take more of the helm so that we can bring some more films into the Reckless Productions repertoire.
Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold is based on the real-life Ari Emanuel, Wahlberg's own right-hand man
Because you are playing in something that is so industry focused, do you find that people say, “I have seen that thing that you are doing. That’s me on screen that you’re portraying”?
It’s funny. I think people are often disappointed that I’m not more actory, celebrity’y. If I go to a party or even if I go out to a club, there is a bit of disappointment that I’m not as sort of schmooze as other actors. Like I’ll go to the Golden Globes or the Emmys or whatever and all the other actors are pretending to be friends and schmoozing with each other and that’s just not me. If I don’t… I’m a little more awkward and sort of reserved, shy, perhaps.
What has been your favourite storyline? What was your favourite element to play?
I really always loved when Vince gets a movie and gets to do the trailer to the movie or play the acting part; the commercial; the energy drink commercial; the Medin trailer; Aquaman trailer… what else has there been? Queens Boulevard. Yeah, all these movies and you get to see a little glimpse into the movie. That’s always fun because you get to play outside yourself. And you know, Vince is ultimately just a version of me.
Entourage the complete eighth season, and the complete seasons 1-8 are out on Blu-ray and DVD 11th June from HBO Home Entertainment. Some pics below...