HOLLYWOOD HUSTLE

The ‘Entourage’ Cast on the Summer Movie, ‘The Pussy Posse,’ and Mischief with Robert Downey Jr.

We sat down with the Entourage gang—Jeremy Piven, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, and Jerry Ferrara—at SXSW to discuss their anticipated movie and how art imitates life.

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. For eight seasons, Perry Farrell’s shrieking signaled your entrée into the uninhibited world of Entourage, a funhouse mirror—and decidedly male—view of Hollywood packed with babes, bottles, and Benzes. Creator Doug Ellin and executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s HBO series, a rowdy wish-fulfillment fantasy about Tinseltown and bro-ing down, garnered 26 Emmy nominations and became a smash hit for the cable network before signing off in July 2011.

But on June 5, nearly four years after the series strutted away from the small screen, the Entourage movie is set to hit theaters, and The Daily Beast sat down with the boys—Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, and Jerry Ferrara (Kevin Dillon was too sick to attend, sadly)—down in Austin, Texas, during SXSW to discuss the flick.

It almost didn’t happen. Grenier confirmed that a movie would be made way back in September 2011, and the project officially was green-lit in January 2013, but because of rumored contract issues with the cast, Ellin claimed he was “not optimistic” about the movie version later that year. But the gang finally reached a deal, and here we are.

“I was very nervous at first, but the moment they yelled ‘Action!’ I was just performing off them,” says Grenier, pointing to his boys. “We had eight seasons under our belt, so we hit the ground running almost as if no time had passed,” adds Piven.

The fellas are down at SXSW to do some long-lead press and attend a Tumblr-sponsored Entourage bash featuring the musical stylings of Spoon. And for the uninitiated, the series followed newly-minted Hollywood A-lister Vincent Chase (Grenier) who, along with his trusted, highly volatile agent Ari Gold (Piven), navigates the hard-partying terrain of Hollywood along with his Queens crew—best friend-turned-manager Eric (Connolly), the street-smart stoner, Turtle (Ferrara), and of course, the less-famous half-brother, Johnny Drama (Dillon).

According to Connolly, while there’s a cold open that goes down six days after the events of the TV series, the bulk of the Entourage movie is set six months after the boys boarded a private jet to Paris to celebrate the engagement of Vince and Sophia, a Vanity Fair reporter played by Alice Eve.

“I’m technically on my honeymoon when the movie starts, and then I drop the bomb on the group and say I want to direct the next movie I’m on—as well as on Ari, who has to figure it all out,” says Grenier.

Yes, Vince hasn’t learned his lesson from Medellin and is directing a $100 million vanity project that’s been bankrolled by Ari, now a studio head, with the money of a Texan billionaire and his douchebag son, played by Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment, respectively. When the movie goes $15 million over budget, the financiers become thorns in Ari and the boys’ sides.

“Sloan is pregnant, so I’m preparing for fatherhood and trying to repair that relationship while also being the middleman between these guys,” says Connolly. “Vince and Eric are now in the hot seat with Ari, who’s the studio head. Before, Ari technically worked for Vince, but now the tables have turned and we literally work for him. The power has shifted into his court in a big way.”

And after unloading his shares of Avion tequila—thanks to a last-minute save by Vince—Turtle is now flush with cash and sets his sights on UFC badass Ronda Rousey.

“For Turtle, at the end of the series he became a millionaire after working with Mark Cuban, and there’s a good gag going where the guys are dying to know how much he made but he’ll never tell,” says Ferrara. “There’s kind of a love interest/goal for him with Ronda Rousey, too.”

It’s no secret that Piven’s hotheaded superagent Ari Gold, who he describes as “a caged beast,” is based on Ari Emanuel, the real-life talent agent and co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor. While Piven says he’s never received notes or criticisms from Emanuel, he’s a big fan of the Emanuel clan—including Ari’s brother Rahm, the current mayor of Chicago.

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“I’m from Chicago and he’s the mayor!” says Piven. “You may see him make a run for president someday. A Jew in the White House! Rahm has been asked what he thought of the show’s portrayal of Ari Gold, and he was quoted as saying, ‘I like the guy who plays him better than my brother.’”

One of the things that made Entourage an effective beast on the small screen was the casting, and for several of the characters—in particular Kevin Dillon, younger brother of Matt, and Kevin Connolly, who rolled around in pal Leonardo DiCaprio’s entourage in the late ’90s and early aughts, it was an example of art imitating life.

The shenanigans cooked up by Leo and Connolly’s crew, which also included the likes of David Blaine, Tobey Maguire, Harmony Korine, Lukas Haas, and Jenny Lewis—were immortalized in an infamous New York magazine piece by Nancy Jo Sales dubbed, “Leo, Prince of the City.”

“Even before there was Leomania, Leo always traveled with his pack of devotees, known in Hollywood circles as ‘The Pussy Posse,’” wrote Sales.

When I asked Connolly about his real-life entourage, a.k.a. “The Pussy Posse,” the rest of the Entourage gang starts cracking up and ribbing him.

“I have read it,” Connolly says of the New York mag piece. “The truth of the matter is [Sales] coined that phrase, and it stuck. Hand on the Bible as we sit here, never did myself or any of our friends refer to ourselves as ‘The Pussy Posse.’ She wrote it in an article, and it stuck. There was this idea that we were rolling around referring to ourselves as that, and that’s just not true. It would be absolutely ridiculous. But she said it, and it stuck. We were young and if we did say that in passing it would be something we’d have to live with, but we never said that. But it was a good time.”

He adds, “In hindsight, maybe there was a touch of art imitating life and some blurry lines,” he says. “But I’ve grown up a lot since then.”

Piven got his start in the early ’80s as a character actor in films like Lucas and Say Anything…, coming up among an entirely different generation of bad boys like Robert Downey Jr.

“I did have a moment with Downey just prior to his transformation,” says a chuckling Piven.

“Downey thought he was going to sleep and crawled into Jeremy’s house and crashed in Jeremy’s guest room!” interrupts Connolly, laughing hysterically.

“That’s KC talking!” says Piven. “That is my generation, and John Cusack has been my friend for ages, so I guess I technically was in an entourage—and the antithesis of Ari Gold. So it’s really fun to play him because none of us really knows what goes on on our behalf on those phone calls.”

In addition to the boisterous parties and bodacious babes, one of the things Entourage became known for was its A-list cameos, from an enraged Matt Damon to a jet-sharing Kanye West (“We goin’ to Cannes!”) to filmmaker James Cameron, who clashes with Vince on the set of Aquaman. For the movie, Ellin and the fellas have enlisted the services of everyone from quarterbacks Tom Brady and Russell Wilson to action star Liam Neeson to Mike Tyson. One of the bigger cameo roles comes courtesy of Armie Hammer, who plays a dickish actor who butts heads with Vince.

“There’s a current movie star that threatens Vince, and Armie Hammer is a neighbor and a buddy of mine, and so I said, ‘Hey, Armie, would you do a cameo on Entourage?’ and he just lost his mind,” recalls Piven. “The next day he was on set and had the time of his life.”

While the movie has yet to see the light of day, the buzz for it is considerable, with the movie’s trailer collecting close to 6 million views on YouTube alone. And if it proves to be a hit, the guys say it stands to reason that a sequel will follow.

“One thing’s for sure: The movie is good,” says a confident Connolly. “We know. We’ve seen it.”