Life imitates art for the cast of Entourage

Entourage cast (from left) Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Adrian Grenier at the New York premiere of the movie. -- PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Entourage cast (from left) Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Adrian Grenier at the New York premiere of the movie. -- PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The cast of Entourage continue to see parallels between their lives and those of their characters on the TV show and movie

The actors-turned-film-makers

In the new Entourage movie, Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) decides to step behind the camera and direct his first film, a risky, big-budget film titled Hyde, and his best friend and manager Eric (Kevin Connolly) takes on the role of producer.

In real life, both performers have also turned their hand to film-making, albeit on a smaller scale.

Grenier has received good notices for his documentaries, directing Teenage Paparazzo (2010), which was based on the teen celebrity photographer the actor befriended as he followed him around, and producing How To Make Money Selling Drugs (2013), a critique of the United States' so-called "war on drugs".

Although the actor tells Life! he hopes to continue acting after the Entourage movie, he continues to be passionate about documentaries and is working on a project about "a lonely whale" that will shine a light on noise pollution in the ocean.

"I feel a great sense of passion and curiosity about what's happening in the world and our planet. I just want to explore those ideas philosophically and sociologically and I think documentaries are the most vibrant and robust and interesting form of storytelling."

Connolly is also a director and producer, with two episodes of Entourage and also a rap music video for The Game and Ne-Yo among his directorial credits.

The overshadowed brother

The casting of Kevin Dillon as Johnny "Drama" Chase, whose acting career flounders while Vince's soars, was a knowing reference to Dillon's real brother Matt, the one-time heart-throb and star of films such as Crash (2004) and There's Something About Mary (1998).

Like Drama, Dillon had small dramatic roles in many major films - including the Oliver Stone movies Platoon (1986) and The Doors (1991) - but until Entourage, never broke out as a star. And like Drama, his big break came, unexpectedly, with a comedy - one that raised his profile while brother Matt's career was in the doldrums.

And while Matt now stages a bit of a comeback with the new TV show Wayward Pines, it is his once- overshadowed brother who is now the movie star as the new film Entourage hits cinemas - and in the movie itself, Drama may finally have landed what could be a career-altering role.

Asked how he has made sense of his and his brother's shifting fortunes in Hollywood, Dillon says: "It's more to do with the times, I think. Back when I was starting out, you were either a TV actor or a movie actor, you didn't do both, and movie actors looked down on TV actors."Nowadays, guys go back and forth between the two, and that's the way it should be, it makes more sense."

The entrepreneurs

In Entourage, Turtle turned entrepreneur when he launched his own tequila, Avion, which becomes a big success after he uses his celebrity connections to promote it.

In 2010, the actor who plays him, Jerry Ferrara, launched Fat Sal's, a sandwich shop in Los Angeles co-owned by a couple of his childhood friends. Since then, things have gone "amazingly well", the actor says.

"We just opened our fourth location in Austin, Texas, and we're going into the Midwest."

The closer parallel to Avion, however, would be the beer that Grenier launched in 2012 under the name The Churchkey Can Co. The Los Angeles roll-out of the beer - which requires a churchkey-like tool to open and puncture just like the beer cans of yesteryear - was cleverly timed to coincide with the Los Angeles press event for Entourage the film, where the canny star invited Life! and other press to attend his beer launch.

Alison de Souza