10 Questions for Jeremy Piven
Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009
David Needleman / Contour / Getty What are the goods of The Goods?
—Getachew Balcha, Addis Ababa
The goods can refer to what you bring to the table as a salesman — you know, "Do you have the goods?" My character is named Don (the Goods) Ready because he has what it takes to make the sale, to live the dream. He's actually very delusional, and it's fantastic to play characters like that. Jeremy Piven continues his role as Ari Gold in season six of HBO's Entourage. He answers TIME reader questions How does the fact that Ari Gold, your character on Entourage, is based on a real individual affect the way you play the part?
—Ibrahim Khan, Lahore, Pakistan
The character is loosely based on Ari Emanuel, whose brother Rahm Emanuel is the White House chief of staff. He was my agent for a time, so I did get an eyeful and an earful of Ari Emanuel — that is for sure. I haven't heard any of his comments about my character. If he didn't enjoy it, I would've heard about it. Do you ever apologize to Ari Gold's assistant, Lloyd, for treating him the way you do, once the cameras stop rolling?
—Sunni Sivadel, Washington
I used to say I'm sorry to Rex Lee, who plays Lloyd, and he would be like, "Oh, God, who cares?" I do these awful things to him between "action" and "cut," and he just takes it like a champ. I will say that it does all completely pay off this season.
I can't tell you more because I'd probably get into a lot of trouble. In many of your roles, it seems that you create a dynamic character with a bit of an obsessive quality. Is that a reflection of your own personality?
—Megan McCloskey, Austin, Texas
Before I played Ari Gold, I was in probably 40 movies and playing a lot of very soft-spoken characters, also-rans, best friends and whatnot. That was all easily forgotten as soon as I put Ari's power suit on. It seems that your career has progressed gradually over the years. Did you ever consider giving up acting?
—Tala Woods, Jacksonville, Fla.
I never considered giving up acting. I've always worked as an actor because I've taken scraps and made meals out of them. I think the fast-talking nature of some of my characters came from the fact that I tried to just keep talking until they pulled me off the set. Singles is a good example. I think I had maybe 1½ lines, and I turned it into a minute-and-a-half monologue. What would you say has been your favorite character to play thus far?
—Prabhjot Sidhu, Mississauga, Ont.
I had the time of my life playing Don (the Goods) Ready. I really did. We experimented so much, and I was doing things where I just thought, This will never be in the movie — there's no way. And then not only did it end up in the movie, but it ended up really working. Your parents founded the Piven Theatre Workshop. What is the Piven technique?
—Brandon Nadig, Chicago
Well, there isn't a specific technique per se. The goal is to be totally present as an actor. You do scene study or improv games. I've been doing that since I was 8 years old, and the result is whatever in God's name I'm doing now. After you left Speed-the-Plow citing mercury poisoning, playwright David Mamet quipped that you'd left show business to become a thermometer. Do you have a response?
—Ryan Vlastelica, New York City
It was one of the great joys of my life to be on Broadway and to do his words. It's a very funny line, and you would expect nothing less from David Mamet. Have you stopped eating sushi?
—Rick Dorzback, River Edge, N.J.
I haven't had a piece of fish of any kind in 11 months. My mercury levels have gone down from just below 60 to 3 now. I feel like a different person. Of all the different looks you've had on film, which hairstyle have you liked the best?
—Christian Zafiroglu, New Castle, Del.
Smokin' Aces. I've never had so much hair in my life. It was the only time I'd worn a wig, and it was a brilliant one. 10 Questions for Jeremy Piven - TIME