It was Doug Ellin that created the HBO series Entourage 12 years ago (based loosely on the early exploits of friend and executive producer Mark Wahlberg) so it’s only natural that Ellin is the creative force behind the long-awaited movie version. Ellin wrote and directed the film, which picks up where the series left off and continues the adventures of movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his manager/friend Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly), his actor brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon) and his personal assistant-turned-millionaire-businessman Sal “Turtle” Assante (Jerry Ferrara) as they navigate the perils and pleasures of working and living in Hollywood.
Interviewing a director on the set of a movie is a tough thing to corral sometimes; unlike the actors, he doesn’t often have much downtime between shots as he is constantly working with the crew to set up those shots while the actors get a chance to take a break. Nevertheless, Ellin managed to break away for a few minutes to speak with Screen Rant and other outlets visiting the set of Entourage last March as the film shot scenes on the Warner Bros. Pictures lot.
How easy was it to get back into the mindset of getting the guys back together and get into their world?
You know it’s like high school. When you see your best friends you get right back where you started. It actually feels like we never stopped.
Was this the story that you always wanted to tell for the film?
I don’t know. I don’t have any stories I really want to tell, you know? Whatever kind of feels good. As you know we change it somewhat depending on who the cameos are, so it’s always kind of a fluid thing. The script changed 100 times since I started it two years ago.
How much fun was shooting the Hyde sequences? (Hyde is the name of a $100 million film that Vincent directs in the story.)
Amazing. I didn’t direct them so I got to just sit there and watch and it was unbelievable. We had Calvin Harris in that. It was very cool.
When did you know when you would be able to make the movie, and what was it like filming in Los Angeles, California?
When we got that tax credit, honestly I think that was the key for us. That got everything moving very quickly after that. For a studio movie we are modestly budgeted, so I think that was a huge thing for us.
Can you talk about some of the cameos you’ve lined up for this film?
There are so many I’d hate to list, but I just think of who’s current. We have Liam Neeson and Mark Wahlberg and Calvin Harris and Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. There’s tons.
Coming back to this, was there anybody who you were surprised by where they were in the film?
Well when I look back at Turtle, where he started in the first season and now, Jerry has transformed his body and the character as well. He’s probably the character that’s seen the most growth since we started.
You’ve been Instagramming a lot of photos. How much does that go through the studio and legal, or do you just say fuck it?
Well I would always respect the studio. I wouldn’t say fuck it, but I didn’t post anything that gives anything away I don’t think.
At what point while filming the show did it kind of hit you that it was going to be a huge success?
I’m still not even sure whether it is or not. HBO was actually a great place, but the world is much bigger. As we saw with ‘Sex and the City’, it really turned into a whole other thing with the movies. So we have no idea what’s going to happen and we’re doing the best we can. We hope people like it.
You have a sense of the cultural impact that the series has had?
It’s incredible to see all the cameos who were willing to come out. We’ve been off the air for three years. It’s had a good feeling but we’ll see.
Obviously there’s going to be people who have seen the movie that have never seen the show.
I’ve taken a lot of time to make it if you’ve never seen the show you can turn on this movie and you’ll know. It’s a movie about a movie star and his friends and quickly you’ll know the characters and then you’ll follow the story I hope. That’s the plan.
Adrian promises full frontal nudity.
Not on this movie. Not on my watch!
We’ve been hearing PG-13 and R for the movie. Can you confirm either one?
I’d be surprised if this is not R.
Have you put any possible thought as to what will come next?
No. When I was doing the show I always was just going from where we left off. I don’t try to figure it out that way. It’s not ‘The Sopranos’ or a ‘Game of Thrones’ where the plot is everything. It’s about the vibe and the feel, and if you like being with these guys we can figure out another way to take them.
Vince and Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) have a lot invested in this movie. Did you want to create a larger sense of stakes for them?
Yeah absolutely. We wanted everything to be bigger from the locations to the stakes the guys are dealing with. Everything is bigger. It’s like a supersized episode.
Speaking of where things left off, are you surprised how many people interpreted that Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and E would get married after the end of Entourage?
No. I think that’s the expectation that they had, but I went with where I went. When I ended the show I didn’t think, “Oh let’s leave it open for a movie.” I kind of tried to end the show. The Ari thing kind of left it open, but everybody else I kind of closed off.
Who is your favorite character to write dialogue for?
I don’t know. Drama and Ari and Billy Walsh are easiest because they can say anything and get away with it. E and Vince are a little trickier. They are slightly more grounded and they have to do some of the trade stuff, but they are all fun.
Entourage opens in theaters June 3, 2015