'Entourage': Here's how much of the story is real
The movie adaptation of the HBO series, starring Adrian Grenier and Jeremy Piven, will be released on June 3. Director and series creator Doug Ellin said none of his friends have asked him not to use a story in the show or movie. 'I think now that the whole world has gone to reality TV, nobody wants to hide anything anymore,' he said.
It was still early afternoon outside the Beverly Hilton on January 11 – the day of the Golden Globe Awards – when the lines of press noticed something out of place: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Dillon, and Jeremy Piven, all in tuxes, unfashionably early, walking the not-yet-open red carpet.
The "Entourage" cast had attended the Globes many times over the HBO show's eight seasons, once picking up an award for Piven's performance as the agitated agent Ari Gold. But the popular series about the ascent of movie star Vincent Chase and friends had come to a close in September 2011 and a spinoff film wasn't set to open for another six months.
Then it hit everyone: They were using Hollywood reality for Hollywood make-believe, filming a red carpet scene for the upcoming movie.
"Here we come walking down the red carpet and the photographers are there and I can just tell," said Connolly, who plays Vince's loyal manager E. "They're sitting there with their cameras and they're like 'OK, I know these guys did a movie, so, is this Adrian and Kevin and Kevin and Jerry here promoting the movie? Are they here shooting?' You could see the looks on their faces and they weren't sure so... they started taking pictures."
Series creator Doug Ellin, who wrote and directed the film, said the rainy afternoon was "unbelievable and scary." They had 90 minutes to get what they needed before the red carpet opened. While the background chaos of unaware reporters taking cellphone photos made sense for the scene, entire takes could be ruined by someone simply calling "Adrian" instead of "Vince," his character's name.
The harried rush of the day reminded the cast of the guerrilla filmmaking they'd often rely on when shooting the HBO series. It also adds an authenticity of the Hollywood that "Entourage" is depicting.
While "Entourage" is meant to be heightened fantasy of what goes on behind the scenes, Ellin is quick to say that 90 percent of what they show is actually real – especially "the Hollywood stuff."
The film, out on June 3, picks up six days after the series finale. Vince is directing a big budget film (his first) for Ari, who's now heading up a studio. Over budget and behind schedule, "Hyde," the fake film-within-the-film, needs more money and Ari must try to convince a Texas oil man (Billy Bob Thornton) and his sociopathic son (Haley Joel Osment) to front the bill.
At one point Osment's character locks Vince out of the editing room, demanding a rewrite and recasting. That story, Ellin said, is "literally taken from good friends of mine having to deal with financiers who don't care about movies and just want to make money."
"A lot of those stories are coming from Mark Wahlberg's crew or Doug himself or Doug's crew, or us," said Ferrara.
In fact, not one of Ellin's friends ever asked him not to use an anecdote.
"They tell me to include everything. It's weird. I think now that the whole world has gone to reality TV, nobody wants to hide anything anymore. Everyone wants to give everything away," said Ellin.
That's not always the case for everyone. Connolly got into a bit of trouble with his friend Leonardo DiCaprio when a subplot ended up on the show about an expensive dinosaur head that's destroyed at a house party.
"He just rolls his eyes. He's like, 'Really? The dinosaur head thing?'" said Connolly.
"Also, in Hollywood, in a world of narcissists, everybody is going to think it's their story, that it was about them," added Grenier.
"Yeah, Leo, you're not the only one with a dinosaur head," laughed Connolly.
Dillon, who plays the perpetually struggling actor Johnny Drama, even experienced a meta moment: In the film, Johnny's role in "Hyde" becomes a problem for the investors. In real life, the meat of Dillon's part was also put in jeopardy after a celebrity cameo dropped out.
But nothing seemed closer to the series' drama than the real-life lead-up to the movie's release.
"I feel like Vince and Eric. There's this anticipation over how it's tracking, how it tested," said Connolly.
As is standard for a mid-budget film, there are talks for a second "Entourage" – but that's up to audiences. Beyond the aspirational voyeurism of the show, Ellin and the cast believe that the enduring appeal of the show lies in the friendships.
"At the end of the day, they care about each other more than they care about themselves. All the toys, all the money, they don't really care about it – they like it, but they want to share it with their friends," said Ellin. "That's the ultimate male wish."