Nearly four years since it ended its seven-year run on HBO, Entourage returns in a long-promised big-screen incarnation, original cast and all the trappings of the high-living Hollywood lifestyle intact. Written, directed and produced by series creator Doug Ellin, the movie includes a few dozen A-List cameos, including Jessica Alba, Mark Wahlberg, Liam Neeson and, yes, Tom Brady.
Picking up six days after the series left off, the plot follows actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) as he makes his directorial debut on a movie that goes way over budget, stressing out agent-turned-studio chief Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who must appeal to Texas financier Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) and his obnoxious son Travis (Haley Joel Osment) for more cash.
Vince’s best buds have a lot going on too: E (Kevin Connolly) is about to become a dad with his ex, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), tequila mogul Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) is doggedly pursuing UFC champ Ronda Rousey (playing herself), and Vince’s half-brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon) may finally get the break he’s been hoping for.
“Johnny Drama’s got more style than I do. He’s more metrosexual than I am, more in the mirror and he’s a better groomer. But he doesn’t climb underneath the Corvette and start working on it—and I do.”
“I’m really happy to get the storyline that I got,” says Dillon, whose Entourage ride includes both major embarrassment and ultimate satisfaction, and lots of hilarious lines. The 49-year-old Mamaroneck, New York native, previously known for more serious fare like Platoon and The Doors, earned Emmy nominations three years in a row and a Golden Globe nod for playing Johnny Drama, and was eager to step back into the role.
He told us why in a conversation that ranged from vintage cars to chef skills, style and his golf game.
How was it to be Johnny Drama again?
It’s always good to step in his shoes. He’s such a head case, which is fun. The dialogue is always hilarious. The situations he finds himself in are always unbelievable, and the heart that he has is always so big and caring. So all those things make for just a great character. It’s so much fun to do this movie. We worked on it a long time. We started in Florida, moved to L.A. and then Kevin Connolly broke his leg and we had to come back and pick up his stuff, some extra scenes. Then we shot at the Golden Globes.
Did you feel a pressure to please the fans that have been waiting for this movie? Were the stakes higher?
Yeah, It’s got to be better than the show now that it’s a movie. They want what the show had, that’s what’s bringing them there. We didn’t want it to be different. I felt the show ended with legs. I felt we could have done two more seasons, that there was still a lot more we could do, and so now we got to do it in a movie, and maybe people will like it and they go see it, we’ll do another one. I’m up for it. I love this character, he’s so much fun.
Had you remained in touch with the guys in between?
Oh yeah, I see all the guys. I would say it’d be rare if three months went by when I didn’t talk to one of them. We’re really tight.
Why do you think Entourage was a hit originally, and still resonates now?
I think people are curious about Hollywood and what goes on, so you have that aspect, and then the idea of having the fantasy of having fame, money, girls, cars, all the toys and the fun stuff. But none of that will work if you didn’t have characters that you care about, and you wouldn’t care about those characters if they didn’t care about each other, and I think that’s really what makes it work. Then it shows you what agents do and what goes on, on sets and auditions. People don’t realize what an acting audition is like. It’s awful, the hardest thing ever. You go in and half the time they’d been there all day, they’re sick of seeing people, you’re pouring your heart out, they’re not paying attention.
You have a particularly awkward audition in the movie, involving a compromising video that goes viral.
Yeah, all I could think is ‘I’m going to have to be sitting next to my mother at the New York premiere and she’s going to be mortified!’
How has Drama changed since the beginning of the series?
I think he’s probably changed the least out of all the guys. He’s got a one-track mind in a way. He wants success and he wants it bad. He wants fame and he’ll do pretty much anything to get it. But at the same time he will do anything for his brother and his friends. He wouldn’t mind getting together with a girl, but he’s really all about the fame.
He’s been called a lovable loser. Do agree with that description?
I don’t, because I don’t think he is a loser, and I don’t think he’s a bad actor. I think he’s a good actor. He’s got a huge resume. And he proves he’s pretty good in this movie, though it took my brother to help me out—nepotism, but whatever!
Drama is Vinnie’s chef, personal trainer and he’s pretty stylish. Do you relate to any of those aspects?
I had to learn how to chop and stuff like that, so a buddy who’s a chef taught me how to chop—you curl your fingers in so you don’t chop your fingers. I wanted it to look like I really knew what I was doing in the kitchen. Working out, I’m bad about that. If it wasn’t for Johnny Drama I’d be really in bad shape. He forces me to work out a little because he’s into fitness. I broke my wrist right before filming. I wasn’t able to work out at all. I took a fall ice skating with my daughter, so I wasn’t even able to touch a weight before the show. It was a bad break—it’ll never be the same. I can’t do a push-up without it hurting. As for style, I think he’s got more style than I do. He’s more metrosexual than I am, more in the mirror and he’s a better groomer. But Johnny Drama doesn’t climb underneath the Corvette and start working on it—and I do.
So you are into vintage cars too?
Yep. My first car was a ’67 Firebird, a convertible, black on black. I still have a ’69 Firebird that I’ve had for many years. That’s my New York car. I have a ’63 Corvette, a ’74 Corvette, a ’71 Camaro. I collect muscle cars and I restore them.
What goals do you set now for your career? Do want to stick with comedy or get back into dramas? Series or movies?
I’d like to do both. It’s always good to be funny even in a drama. But I do like the comedies. My first movie was a comedy. It was Heaven Help Us. There’s something to be said for having a series, a regular job. Job stability is rare for an actor. There never used to be any crossover but you’ve got a lot of movie actors doing TV now.
What are you proudest of so far?
Nothing more than Entourage and Johnny Drama, but Platoon will always be a big one for me because not only was it a great success, but it was so much fun. It was three months in the Philippines, sleeping in the jungle and just working with these actors, and then of course it went on to be Best Picture. I loved The Doors as well. I did a TV series that I thought was really good called That’s Life on CBS, and it never really got its chance. It had a graveyard time slot.
Father’s Day is coming up. Do you know what you’re getting your dad?
We don’t make a big deal about it really. But he’s my buddy and I’ll get him something. I haven’t figured it out yet. We used to always play golf on Father’s Day—me, my dad, and three of my brothers. We still talk about certain rounds that we had. We had one called the Father’s Day Massacre, where I was on the losing end. I still haven’t heard the end of that, and it was 10 years ago.
Has your game improved?
It’s not bad. I’m hitting the ball pretty decent. I’m a single digit handicap. Last time I played I played really well. I watch a lot of golf, I think watching golf is good for your game. Rory McIlroy has a beautiful swing. Not that I could do that. I wish I could. I could live on a golf course and play every day. It’s the one thing that makes getting old sound nice!