Often, it's difficult to distinguish between a real-life actor and his on-screen persona. When all you see is a fictional character week in and week out, you grow accustomed to it. The actor and the character begin to melt together in your mind, becoming one and the same.
It's especially difficult to separate between fact and fiction when the role is an iconic one, when the performance is larger than life and comes to define a show or even a generation.
This is where we find ourselves with the curious case of Jeremy Piven and Ari Gold. Piven played the Hollywood super-agent for eight seasons on HBO's "Entourage." He won three Emmys and one Golden Globe for his portrayal of the character, which was based on real-life talent agent Ari Emanuel.
Even though "Entourage" is over, we still adore and respect this character, years later. And now that the "Entourage" movie is on its way, we'll get to see even more of Ari. Which is good because Ari Gold is a complex character. He yells. He screams. He works hard, and he parties hard. But at the end of the day, he comes home to his family.
Thinking about Ari made me wonder if the guy who played him for so many years is anything like him. Now, I don't know Jeremy Piven personally, but I did some extensive research on this one. Plus, I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night, so just take my word for it. (Not really, gross.)
Anyway, here are the answers to the question: is Ari Gold anything like the man who plays him?
1. Yes, they both have an incredibly short fuse.
If Ari is known for one thing, it's his temper. Like many Hollywood agents, he will yell and scream about almost anything. If there are too many pine nuts in his pine nut salad, someone might have to look for a new job. He's always telling Lloyd to shut up or yelling something vaguely racist and homophobic. Simply put, the guy has anger issues.
Jeremy Piven seems to share these anger issues with his fictional counterpart. Apparently, in 2009, when Piven was backstage at a talk show with former "SNL" star Chris Kattan, he went off on Kattan. Kattan made a joke about Piven and Piven took it way too seriously.
He freaked out and said something to Kattan that was reportedly incredibly offensive and personal. We don't know what he said exactly, but it definitely sounds like Piven crossed a line and does not know how to take a joke.
2. No, Ari works way harder than Jeremy.
Ari Gold is a workaholic. He's always at the office or out with clients. Even when he's partying with Vince and the gang, he's technically working. He works so hard, in fact, that his family life suffers. He answers his phone in the middle of marriage counseling. He doesn't have sex with his wife because he doesn't want to jinx Vince's movie opening. If nothing else, Ari is dedicated to his career.
The same can't necessarily be said for Jeremy Piven. Sure, he's a working actor. And I'm sure he takes his craft seriously. But one of the most widely reported stories about the actor regards his exit from the David Mamet scripted play "Speed the Plow."
Piven claimed he had to quit the play because he suffered from mercury poisoning due to a lifetime of eating sushi. But Mamet called him on his bullsh*t and said,
My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.
If he did that, at least he'd be working hard.
3. Yes, they're both super greedy.
Ari is always pushing Vince to choose the big blockbuster over the small, personal indie flick. That's because that's where the money's at. Agents work on commission. If their clients don't get paid, they don't get paid.
Sometimes this has worked in Ari and Vince's favor, like when they decided on making "Aquaman." Other times, it's blown up in their faces like when they were booed at Cannes when they debuted "Medellín."
Piven, too, is quite the miser. Before the "Entourage" movie went into production, it was held up due to contract disputes. Mark Wahlberg, who is the executive producer of the series and the movie, told TMZ that the cast members were being "greedy" and preventing the film from being made.
It was never explicitly stated that Piven was the only one behind the cash grab, but based off what I know about the guy, I'm sure he was leading the charge.
4. No, Ari is a family man. Jeremy is a ladies man.
Even though Ari hangs out with the boys, he always returns to his wife. In the show, he claims to have never cheated on Mrs. Ari and really, why would he? She's a total babe, a loving wife and has a massive inheritance.
Ari might be a prick sometimes, but he's got a good heart and good values underneath that douchey, Hollywood exterior.
Piven, on the other hand, is just crushing ass, left and right. It's been rumored that he's had affairs with January Jones, Kelly Brook and Sophie Turner. But, he also treats women like objects.
He once allegedly sent a mass text to a group of women saying, "Come to my room – whoever responds first gets me for the night." Classy stuff there, Piven.
5. Yes, they're both very offensive and rude.
When Ari yells, it's usually a homophobic, racist or misogynistic slur coming out of his mouth. They're often directed at Lloyd. Other ones are directed at Barbara Miller or Dana Gordon. No matter who he's screaming at, though, they're sure to be offended. Some people love him for this. More people hate him.
Piven is much the same. In Nobu in Aspen, he allegedly left a DVD of "Entourage" in place of a tip that should have been hundreds of dollars because he wasn't satisfied with the service.
There are also multiple accounts on the web from women who have had nightmarish encounters with "The Piv." On one such date, Piven allegedly called a woman a "huge f*cking conceited bitch" in front of an entire restaurant because she refused to go home with him.
So, I guess art imitates life and life imitates art.
6. No, Ari is loyal to a fault. Jeremy can't be trusted.
Much like Vince and the boys, Ari is loyal to a fault. He stuck with Vince through thick and thin. Ari was even willing to take a job, he didn't want in order to save Vince's career. He constantly puts his neck on the line to help out his friends and clients.
The same can't be said of Piven. Piven rose up through the ranks with his good friend John Cusack. Cusack and Piven trained in Jeremy's parents' theater in Evanston, Illinois.
Cusack became famous well before Piven, and I'm sure that irked Jeremy. They remained friends for a while, but once Piven got his big break on "Entourage," he and Cusack had a falling out. Once Piven no longer needed Cusack, he dropped him like a hot potato. That's friendship for ya.
7. Yes, they're both really good at what they do.
Though they both may be amoral jerkoffs, there's no denying that Ari and Jeremy are talented. Ari is a superstar agent who graduated from Harvard business school. Not only does he represent major movie stars, but he also has a beautiful, loving family for most of the series' run.
He also built Vince into a huge celebrity from nothing and runs his own agency. There's no question that he is a major power player in the industry.
Piven, too, is a talented and successful actor. He won three Emmys for his portrayal of Ari and one Golden Globe. He's also currently enjoying success overseas as he is starring in the ITV series "Mr. Selfridge" to much acclaim. He's also one of my favorite characters in "Old School" (Cheeeeese!).
Say what you will about these two guys, but, at the end of the day, they do their jobs and they do them well.
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