In the long-running HBO series Entourage, Queens-born actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) makes it as a star in Hollywood, but it was his older half-brother Johnny “Drama” Chase that ventured into the business first. As played by Kevin Dillon for seven seasons, Drama was a perfect mix of bravado, loyalty, lunacy and melancholy, watching his own dream of stardom slowly slip through his fingers even as he lives it vicariously through the ascent of his baby brother.
Drama returns for the big screen version of Entourage, along with Vincent, Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Sal “Turtle” Assante (Jerry Ferrara), agent-turned-studio-head Ari (Jeremy Piven), plus all the supporting characters and celebrity cameos that made the show such a cult hit. As the film opens, Vincent is laying his career on the line to direct and star in a massive tentpole for Ari’s studio, and of course Drama has a piece of the action. Apparently, as Dillon reveals when he takes time out from shooting to speak with us, audiences will get a glimpse of a previously unseen piece of Drama as well.
Your fellow cast members said that the film would feature “full frontal Drama.” Care to comment?
They were happy that they were not in that shot. I can’t tell you too much but you won’t actually be seeing my privates. Let’s just say that there is prosthetics involved. I got a little Dirk Diggler going on.
So where is Drama when the movie begins?
Drama has a little piece of Vince’s movie, which he always gets a little piece of whatever Vince does. But this is the best piece he’s gotten in a while and he thinks he might be able to take his career to the next level. He’s got a juicy role and he is hoping it changes things for him. He’s had a rough time.
I would imagine that when you are at a bar, you’re the guy that everyone wants to buy a drink for. Is that the case?
Yeah, it kind of is. I get a lot of free drinks. Of course they call me Drama, or Johnny. But for free drinks that’s all right.
How does it feel to be recognized as Drama even after the show went off the air?
It’s always a compliment. It’s fine. I was called Bunny after ‘Platoon’, and Matt Dillon’s brother my whole life, and now Drama. As long as they call me something that’s good.
Through the character of Drama, we get to see the side of Hollywood that beats people up. Is it cathartic to be able to play that guy and speak for millions of out of work actors?
You know, so many people come up to me and tell me that they’ve been through something similar. Or someone can relate to a bad audition where the casting guys are looking at their cell phones the whole time. So it’s kind of like caring the torch for a lot of struggling actors out there. It really is like that. It’s a tough racket.
Yet he is forever optimistic.
Yeah. I mean he gets kicked down a little bit, and he’ll get down on himself or the business, but he always gets on his feet, dusts himself off, and keeps plugging away at it. That is one of his best qualities. He has a lot of bad qualities, but that is his best quality.
Is Johnny Bananas still a hit?
Unfortunately, no. ‘Johnny Bananas’ kind of went south. That bums out Drama a little bit but now he’s got this ‘Hyde’ movie to look forward to. Of course Vince threw him a bone again. So this might be the one.
What’s Drama’s role in Hyde?
He plays one of the few humans in the movie. I can’t really tell you too much. A lot of it is in our own heads anyway because you don’t see it on film.
What happened to Johnny Bananas?
It just wasn’t getting good numbers. It was getting lower numbers than reruns of ‘Lassie’ on the Animal Planet. That is actually a line that is no longer in the script so at least I can use it with you guys. (Andrew) Dice (Clay) was wrong. Dice may have had something to do with it being canceled. Maybe he was being difficult. But Dice is a great guy.
From the time you first read the script, how much changed and changed for your character?
A lot. The script changed over and over again. It still changes when we are on set. We’ll just mix it up and change it or throw something in there. Most of it is scripted. We do a little improv. On occasion we’ll have an actor come in out of the blue to do a cameo, like Jon Favreau, and we had to figure out what we were going to do. So we did a little improv, him, and me and it came out great. I saw D.B. Sweeney on the lot, and he is a friend. So we’re trying to figure out how we can get D.B. in. There are always surprises.
How does it feel to be back in character and back with the cast making the movie?
It feels good. I love the guys. I love the character. I would say it’s the best character I’ve ever played. I miss playing him because he is so nuts. I love the pacing of it, the walk and talks, which we were doing a lot of before Connolly broke his leg. It just feels great to do all these things again. We do these things called one-ers, were you do a like four pages of dialogue without a cut. I love that. That is one of my favorite things to do. I hated it before the show, and then I realized it has more energy and it feels more alive. I like to see no cut acting. It makes your day go faster because you are doing four pages in one take. That’s nice.
Is shooting the movie different than shooting the series?
Its not. It’s a little easier because our page count is down. We’ve were shooting about eight pages a day when it was a series, and now we are shooting about three and a half pages a day. It’s a little bit easier. It kind of feels like a continuation but just a little bit bigger. Craft service is a little bit bigger and there are more trailers on the set. Everything is a little bit larger.
Can you talk about TV director Doug Ellin vs. movie director Doug Ellin?
I think he is doing an amazing job. He put a little more prep into it than the TV show. He had more time to work on it. When you are doing a TV show, you only have a couple days of prep and with this he’s had tons of time. He’s really stepped up.
Did you do anything specific to get back into the role?
You know what, I just watched some old episodes to get the feel for them. I grew out the beard and mustache a little more to get that going. I just started thinking about him a little bit more and that got me in the right space.
After the series ended, did you feel like there were more stories to tell?
Absolutely. We always talked about doing a movie. I had a gut feeling that it could happen. I also felt that the show had legs. I feel that we could have done two more seasons easily. At least we are getting to do this and carry on a little bit. It really feels like we are picking up where we left off.
From the time the show ended to now, what was the number one thing that fans would tell you they would like to see in the movie?
For my character, a lot of fans wanted to see him have a little success. He always gets knocked down so often. The little bits of success he has I think that is what makes him fun to watch because he can’t always get knocked down. It’s also fun to play him struggling. A successful Drama I don’t think is as much fun as a struggling Drama. I’ve heard that a lot. “We want Drama to get a part and catch a break some time.” Maybe he will one day.
What is Johnny Drama’s dream role?
A lead, just a lead in something. He thinks he’s a leading man. He’s still living the glory days of Viking Quest. He wants to get something bigger. He’s not too picky about it, as long as he’s the lead in something. He’s dedicated to the craft and he thinks he’s really good. He might be the best actor in the family in his mind. Vince is great, but in his mind he’s the best.
Entourage is in theaters June 3, 2015.