Jeremy Piven Talks About Broadway Debut


Oct. 23 2008, Published 10:02 a.m. ET

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You gotta hand it to the "Piv"... Since achieving world domination with his Emmy-winning role as Ari Gold on HBO's Entourage, Jeremy Piven has been stretching his fame as far as he can. And who wouldn't?

He's got a role in Guy Ritchie's new film RocknRolla (more on that later). And tonight, Piven makes his Broadway debut in David Mamet's classic play Speed the Plow, a production close to the actor's heart.

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"David Mamet is a playwright who grew up in my hometown of Chicago," Piven tells "My father--no one actually knows this--was friends with David and he was the first person to give him money to start his Piven Theater Workshop. So there's a lot of personal history."

Piven, who comes from what he calls "a theater family" describes his Broadway debut as "my Olympics. I just hope I'm ready for eight shows a week."

Piven's self-deprecating side may seem out of character for a guy known mainly as the confident, brutally offensive agent Ari Gold on Entourage.

"I just am incredibly blessed that I get a chance to keep exploring the dualities of a tragically flawed, Type A wrecking ball," he says. "That's why I work so hard to try and get better. Once you kind of make friends with fear and understand that it's just a healthy energy, then you can walk right through it and just be totally present and give everything you have."

Guy Ritchie
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In Speed the Plow, Piven plays Bobby Gould, who's head of production at a Hollywood studio. Asked whether he finds any similarity between Gould and Ari, Piven says, "Maybe, but I think Bobby would be trying to calm Ari down. I kind of have to whip myself into a frenzy to get into the state of high energy that Ari has. Ari is always fascinating to me because he's so brutal and offensive, and at the same time, has so much love and is a monogamous husband and all these things. I'm having a blast and this season is more interesting than even the ones before it."

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Audiences will next see Piven on the big screen in RocknRolla — a film getting a lot of press at the moment due to its director, Guy Ritchie's, divorce from wife, Madonna. Despite being a three-time Emmy winner, Piven says he still felt a little star-struck when Mrs. Ritchie visited the set.

"Madonna came on the set and it was kind of crazy because she was so low key, just sitting in a chair," he says. "At first nobody noticed her. But once you did, it was just like the energy in the room just completely blew out of control and you couldn't help staring."

Asked whether Guy was impressed with his Emmys, Piven said, "Are you kidding? Somebody asked him and he said, 'Who's Ari Gold?' I found out there isn't a lot of television watching allowed in their home."

While Madonna may still make him sweat, Piven is by far a bona fide star in his own right. Yet the actor seems to be taking it all in stride.

"My father always said that being a star means that you have a choice. That's all it means," he says. "That you have a choice of what to do artistically. And I've never had a choice. And now I'm beginning to have choices. So if that's what being a star is, then I welcome that."


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