Written and directed by Doug Ellin, the much-anticipated big-screen version of the HBO series Entourage is finally here and hitting theaters on June 3rd. Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his boys E (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny “Drama” (Kevin Dillon) are still together and back in business, as Vince sets out on a new make-or-break movie venture with super agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). And like with any project in Hollywood, the money people – in this case oil baron Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) and his son, Travis (Haley Joel Osment) – are there to lord their power and their money over everyone.
During a conference at the film’s press day, creator Doug Ellin and actors Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara and Kevin Dillon were reunited with Emmanuelle Chriqui and Entourage newcomer Haley Joel Osment to talk about turning the half-hour series into a full-length movie, keeping the story authentic and real, the evolution of their characters, how involved Mark Wahlberg has been, making sure this film could stand on its own for people who have never seen the TV show, just how little improv the actors do, getting the cameos that they do, and where all of this might go next. From the interview, we’ve compiled a list of 20 things you should know about what went into making Entourage and its future.
Entourage lasted for eight seasons as a successful TV series on HBO, before then being turned into a long-form feature film. Doug Ellin said, “The biggest challenge in turning the show into a movie was getting the script right. You want everybody to be serviced in a movie. In a half-hour television show, one week it can focus on Vince, once week it can focus on Turtle, and it can switch around. It was a challenge to service everybody in a 90-minute movie, and keep it moving and keep it paced. But, the reason we did it is because we love it.”
- To make this very Hollywood story accessible, it originally started through E’s eyes, so that it was the everyman that everyone could relate to. If the characters were fireman in Chicago or baseball players in Wisconsin, the show is primarily about friendship. The backdrop gives them amazing material and beautiful scenery, but at the end of the day, it’s about friends who grew up together, taking this ride together. So, if you’re authentic and real, people will get into it, no matter the subject matter.
- When asked about how this group has remained so tight, all these years, Adrian Grenier said, “One thing about this crew that’s so special is that, despite all of the changes and ups and downs, there’s still something that remains steadfast, which is their loyalty to each other. Vince certainly has inspired a generosity amongst them.”
- Kevin Connolly believes that all of the characters have evolved, in their own way. “Certainly, E and Sloan are taking a big jump in this movie, adding a new tiny member to the entourage. There will be a new character in the Entourage It’s a big step for anybody, in real life. So, for E and Sloan to be having a baby, it’s a big deal.”
- Kevin Dillon feels like Johnny “Drama” has changed the least of the characters. “He’s still striving for the same thing. He wants fame. Not really the fortune so much, but he’s all about the fame. But that’s what I love about him. I don’t want him to change too much because he’s a lot of fun.”
Jerry Ferrara said that Turtle was the last of the group to start the process of his own evolution. “I like to go back to the early, early years of the character where he was telling girls to make out with him and he’d show them where Vince ate breakfast in the morning to dating Jamie-Lynn, who was out of his league, to then becoming a millionaire. I used to joke around with Doug [Ellin] all the time about when Turtle would grow up a little more. In Season 2, he said it would be in Season 8, but I don’t think he thought we’d ever get to Season 8 when he said that to me. But when it was Season 8, I said, ‘Doug, it’s time.’ I love the evolution of how this guy has changed. It’s been a lot of fun to play. I’ve grown up with him a little bit, along the way. I’ve matured as he’s matured. I still say I’m a little more mature, though.”
- In talking about her character, over the six seasons she was on the show to where she is in the movie, Emmanuelle Chriqui said, “It’s been an incredible journey. In the beginning, Sloan was a little more naive. As E and Sloan’s relationship evolved, so did so many conflicts and things that they worked through. They’ve been through a lot, and it’s just really nice to be two real adults. There’s no more B.S. This is just what’s on the table, with another journey ahead of them. That’s scary for anybody, in real life, let alone movie characters.”
- When the show was originally cast, Ellin searched for guys that were like the guys he grew up with.
- Mark Wahlberg was an executive producer on the series, and a producer on the film. In talking about his involvement with the project, Ellin said, “Initially, it started out to be Mark. We were going to find who the next Mark Wahlberg was. When Adrian was cast, it went very different. They’re very different types of guys, and they’re very different types of actors, so it went differently. Mark has a Johnny ‘Drama,’ who I would say is probably the closest to the guys in the group. There is an E in Mark’s group, but really has almost nothing to do with this E, except in name. And there’s a Donkey in Mark’s group, who I don’t really know. Quickly, it went away from that. It was important to me to make it New York because I don’t know anything about Boston. Also, Mark really never struggled. He probably wouldn’t agree with that, but he’s gone straight up. We wouldn’t have had a show, if Vince didn’t have his ups and downs. So, Mark’s biggest contribution was to allow us to use what we wanted of his life and not use what we didn’t want of his life, and come to him anytime that we really needed a big favor, like getting Martin Scorsese on the show. When Eli Manning decided not to show up, Mark called Tom Brady and got him to show up. And Mark has obviously been a great proponent to get the word out for us. ”
The cast is so tight and so much of a family, in real life, that if any of them ever needed anything, they would be there for each other, much like their characters are.
- When asked about how important it was to make this a stand-alone film for people who haven’t seen the TV show, Ellin said, “Hugely important, and hopefully we’ve achieved that. We had to imagine that no one had ever seen the show. Obviously, there are some inside jokes that people will get, if you know the show. At the end of the day, you can quickly get into that these are friends from childhood who are living this fantasy life, and you go along for the ride.”
- Surprisingly, there is little to no improv when it comes to Entourage, as Ellin doesn’t like them to go off-book with their lines. He said, “My most favorite memory of improv was that Larry David just didn’t want a script. I had to call Kevin up the night before and say, ‘So, there’s no sides for tomorrow. Larry just wants to do it.’ Kevin was like, ‘What do you mean, do it? What are we gonna do? What are we gonna say?’ Kevin was a real mess about it, but then he loved it. But, there’s very little improv.”
- As the villain of the story, Haley Joel Osment said, “It was a lot of fun to come in and play a character who’s just a total asshole. Doug created a really fun character, in Travis McCredle, who comes in and tries to insert himself in a world where he doesn’t really belong. It was a really, really fun project to work on. It was very enjoyable.”
On the Entourage TV series, Grenier starred in James Cameron’s Aquaman. Now that there’s actually going to be an Aquaman movie with Jason Momoa playing the character, Grenier offered his advice and said, “He should slim down a bit because the friction in the water is going to be problematic for him. James Cameron wanted a more fluid swimmer.” Ellin added that when they wrote Aquaman into the show, it was because it was the one superhero that seemed like there would be no way to make a good movie out of, unless James Cameron made it.
- Dillon said that he’s had plenty of bad auditions that he can use to help inspire all of the bad auditions that Johnny “Drama” goes on. Ellin used to be in most of the auditions that they shot for the TV show, but they hired actors to do it for the movie.
- When asked whether Johnny might ever find happiness in Hollywood, Dillon said, “I think he will. In the end, he’s all about the fellas. He’s got a big heart, and he’d do anything for the guys.” And Ellin added, “As much as ‘Drama’ is about his fame and success, on the surface, the truth is that he’s about his brother and the guys just as much, if not more. I think that’s why people love him so much.”
- The cameos on the show and in the movie are everything from friends of theirs to idols that they admire and respect. None of it is done for stunts, but instead in the most authentic way possible. Connolly is friends with the L.A. Kings, and they wanted to be included. Clay Matthews was willing to skip a wedding to be in the movie. Mike Tyson was on set six hours after getting a call to be in a scene, and brought along his daughter. Rob Gronkowski had so much fun on set that he hung around and served the extras hot soup. Liam Neeson was one of those wish list names that they didn’t think they’d get, much like when they wanted U2 on the show.
For the pilot, they couldn’t get anyone to make a cameo because nobody knew what the show was. They had an actress (who will remain nameless) not show up for the pilot because they didn’t realize they were playing themselves, even though the script had their name all over it. They were standing on set without an actress, and Ali Larter stepped in.
- When asked about what it was like to work with Ronda Rousey, Ferrara said, “It was very humbling. A lot of my friends think that if they got in the ring with her, maybe ‘cause she’s a woman, that they could handle her. I would like to say that that is incorrect. She would dispose of all of my friends and me, very quickly. She’s a professional fighter. She’s great at what she does. It was just a treat for me. To get in the octagon with an athlete who’s at the top of their game, in their prime, I just don’t know of anyone else who’s gotten to do that, who’s not a fighter. So, it was very cool for me. She definitely took it easy. There was a part where she had to flip me, and she did advise that I let the stuntman do it because she’s broken ribs before. I wanted to do all of my own stuff, but I said, ‘You’re the pro here. I’m going to listen to you.’ She’s amazing, and she’s brilliant at what she does.”
- In talking about the future of Entourage, Ellin said, “The whole process of doing it is like when you get back together with your best friends from high school. It’s just something you do because you enjoy it. I don’t think we’ll run out of anything to say because it really is just these guys and what their journeys are, in life together. We’ll keep doing it, as long as people are interested.”
Entourage opens in theaters on June 3rd.