Jeremy Piven is a busy man on both sides of the Atlantic. Shortly to appear as Ari Gold in the forthcoming 'Entourage' film, he's also hard at work here playing Mr Selfridge in the hit ITV period drama.
Jeremy talks to HuffPostUK about Series 3, which saw Harry Selfridge reeling from tragedy and feeling the effects of tough love, something Jeremy knows all about...
Q: Where do we find Harry at the start of the series now, I think he would’ve moved on a little bit.
Yes, it’s a really, really sad time for him because as you know from Season 2 he was really getting it all together and getting his life together and his marriage and really figured out what it was all about, and wasn’t a slave to his kind of demons and urges anymore and was kind of the husband that he always wanted to be and Rose always wanted him to be, and then she finds out that she’s dying. So we open on him at her funeral with his family and this whole season is about, I mean we’ve kind of planted all the seeds and now everything’s kind of come to fruition for good or ill and so there’s a lot of action this year but none of it’s unwarranted, I think it all comes organically because we’ve kind of earned it. So we open on the funeral and the wedding of his daughter.
Q: It’s on the roof?
We end up celebrating on the rooftop yes, first in the church and so you know, we start with a death and a new beginning.
Q: Why do you think the show does so well overseas because people might think it’s very British with the American guy in it, but all over the world people embrace it. Is there any kind of universal themes that you see in it?
Well, I think that Harry represents that kind of spirit that can’t be denied that I think all of us either have, or maybe we’re interested in having, or appreciate it in others or whatever and certain cultures nurture that and others cultures don’t, they have more tough love and I think that’s one of the fascinating things about this show is you have this guy with this very American kind of ‘can do’ spirit that can’t be denied in a country where they do a lot of tough love.
For the right reasons they believe that if you are a little more, let’s say nihilistic, that you inspire someone to work harder whereas in the States we really just kind of encourage each other.
My mother was always very encouraging of me and that seemed to work. So I think people also are living in an age where technology is moving in the speed of light and we can text or email or WhatsApp or Instagram or bla, bla, bla and just hide. And this is in a simpler time where we have to confront each other and I think that there’s something very satifying about watching that.
Q: When you first read the script, right back at the beginning, did you instantly recognise the sphere of great characters you’ll be playing with?
Yes, I mean even before I read the script, when they pitched it to me, I just thought, wow this is some interesting stuff. Being from Chicago and knowing Marshall Fields where he worked, where my mom visited with her mother and they told me what it was like to be in a place that really had Harry Selfridge’s fingerprints all over it, it was really true to what we know and read and what we’re seeing now. He wanted to really create a place where people felt welcomed.
Q: Talking about your upbringing in theatre, is there a big difference between how American actors are trained at work and how English actors are trained at work?
It’s interesting because I’m an American actor but I come from an acting family of theatre actors so I don’t know how typical we are, to be honest with you. My journey is, I’m a little bit I think of an anomaly but I studied at the National Theatre here, they have a great program where they take Americans in and you learn Shakespeare and than at night you get to see plays. I remember seeing Judy Dench and Anthony Hopkins on stage and being inspired and blown away.
So I feel very comfortable here but in the States there’s so many different types of backgrounds. Sometimes you’re hired just because you’re a type, you know, when you walk in the room and they go, that’s the guy, oh my God, he really is, he’s from Brooklyn, he’s been sleeping in his car and yes, he’s the guy. Well does he have any background and that? What does that matter, it’s the guy. Tell him we’ll start on Tuesday, let’s get into it, what are we waiting for. Whereas here, I think because of the tough love and because I think in this country, I think what’s really noble about it is that you have to earn that right to be in any arena. So I think when a kid tells his parents, I want to be an actor, they’re okay with it but then you have to do it in the proper way, you have to go to a conservatory, you study and you go to drama school and then we’ll see.
Q: Do you get British tough love from them as well here on set? I mean, you’re the American on a British set, they must give you some tough love as well?
You know British humour of making fun, and I love that and so that’s fun but in terms of like, no-one’s pretentious, everyone’s just really well prepared and then they want to work hard and have fun. So there’s no other agenda so it just makes for a great working atmosphere and, as you can hear, we have to move at the speed of light.
'Mr Selfridge Series 3' is released today on DVD. Watch the trailer below...