If actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) is the heart of Entourage, then his best friend and manager, Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly) is the brain and possibly the conscience. E is a smart guy who, over the course of eight seasons on HBO, steered himself and his client through the shark-infested waters of Hollywood, learning on the job and trying to make his mark on a business where he could easily be overshadowed and intimidated.
But E remained standing, although he made a personal decision at the end of the series to leave his management business and turn his attention to his child with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and possibly fix their battered relationship. We’ll find out how that went when Entourage the movie opens in theaters on June 3, but meanwhile, Screen Rant and others got to talk with Connolly on the Warner Bros. lot – i.e. the “set” – where he was nursing a broken leg sustained during the filming of an earlier scene.
How are you doing?
Good. A little bit banged up, but I’m here.
How did it happen, the accident?
We were doing a scene where we’re playing football on the beach and Russell Wilson, who’s actually a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, threw me a pass and I just came down the wrong way and ended up breaking my fibula in two places. So, ouch, yes, it hurts. It feels good when it’s elevated like this, though [Laughs].
How has it affected the filming of the movie?
Not at all, not at all. Just my jeans are weird, my jeans have been altered to fit the cast, and we’ve just been shooting around it. But we’re certainly not writing it into the script or anything like that, we’re just kind of dealing with it. It’s good that it happened later on as opposed to early on, we’ve probably would’ve had to shut down but it was enough that we could just kind of get through it.
Have any walking scenes become dragging scenes because of that?
Not yet, no. We haven’t had to change anything just yet, so we’ll see.
Talk a little bit about from when you got the script to what we’re seeing. How much changed along the way on the script and for your character?
Well, like most screenplays, it takes lots of different forms. There’s been a bunch of different drafts, it’s evolved a great deal, and it continues to evolve it never stops, we always get new pages. Doug [Ellin]’s the writer and director, and particularly writer/directors have a tendency to do that, they’re always writing and they’re always trying to make it better where they and when they can.
Where is E at the start of the film, where do we find him as compared to where he was at the end of the show?
We find him just a little bit further down the road from the show, with Sloan, working it out, doing the best that they can to make the best out of a difficult situation.
How does it feel to be back in character and working with the cast making a movie?
It’s great. We always said eight years and a movie, how many people can say that? So few people can say that, so we’re a lucky bunch, not one person has taken one day on this set for granted so we’re all just happy to be here. It’s a bummer that I’m spending my last week in this cast because I was really looking forward to kind of the last week and that sort of stuff. It’s been a tremendous experience, and again, we’re so lucky. There’s a lot of great shows but very few great shows have parleyed that into a movie, so it’s quite an accomplishment.
How does the industry respond to Vince [Vincent Chase] wanting to direct and how does he have to fight for him?
He’s got a 5000 ib. gorilla behind him in Ari Gold, so that’s his ace in the hole there.
But does Ari want him to direct?
Ari’s skeptical of it at first but he gets behind him, because he’s loyal.
The relationship between Eric and Ari was always a little difficult, has that changed at all?
He still has a lot of terrible things to say…don’t worry, insults are flying all over the place.
What do you think it’s about these four guys, their trials and tribulations, that fans have resonated with for the past decade?
I think -- and this is nothing against myself or my fellow cast mates -- that there’s an average quality about the guys that people just sort of relate to. I think people watch the show and think, “These guys are nothing special, if these guys can make it maybe there’s a hope for me out there."
Have you learned anything from the characters?
I’ve been in this business for 35 years or something crazy, so I’ve had a pretty good insight to the business. If anything, I like to think that maybe the characters have learned a little something from me, maybe the opposite. But I’ve certainly learned different sides of things, but I’ve been around a while.
Talk a little bit about getting to film in L.A., what locations did you guys get to use?
One of the things that was always special about 'Entourage' was the locations were always the sixth character. Every day to wake up and to go to the Earth Café or the Farmers Market, just all places where you frequent in your everyday life. It just always felt very special to me and one of the greatest things about the show is being able to go home.
Can you talk specifically about where you got to go for this movie? I know you went to like some mansion in Malibu, but what other real world places did you get to film at?
We were in Miami, we shot in Miami for Ibiza. So we were in Miami, we spent the week in Ranchos Palos Verdes which is where the ankle incident happened; and we just cover pretty much all of L.A. We didn’t want to get too far out of L.A. because the show is Los Angeles.
When the show left off E was moving to New York and he was gonna have a kid, is he ‘the dad’ a different guy?
Well, he’s not a dad at the beginning of the movie, that’s sort of something that maybe happens later on towards the end. So yeah, that’s in the movie, you’ll learn about that. Even though you guys are allowed to know I feel like I’m gonna get in trouble for saying something.
Talk about the relationship with Sloan a little bit, can you talk a bit more about that in the film and working with Emmanuelle?
Emmanuelle is a doll, we’ve worked together for years obviously, I think the world of her. She’s been very supportive of my foot, she’s always offering food or dinner over or anything that I may need. At the end of season eight it’s funny because people would come up to me and make reference to us being back together, but that was not my understanding, I always was of the opinion that the ending was ambiguous and that we were going to try to work it out; but it didn’t feel like we were back together and it turns out that Doug agreed with me. So that’s sort of where the characters are, they wanna do the right thing by their newborn baby so they’re just trying to see if they can figure it out and get past some of the terrible things that they’ve done to each other, so that’s their struggle.
The end of the show had E getting used to the idea of how to wield power, what that is, what it really means. Has E gotten better at it, and in this film with Vince having so much on the line, how is he backing him?
Well, he has a lot on the line too because he’s producing the movie. I think more than any of the seasons this is the most that the guys have had at stake. There’s a line in the script where Ari actually says to me, “If you guys screw this up there’s no coming back from this. Not for me, not for you, or Vince. The three of us are done if this doesn’t fly,” so the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been in this movie, so we’re just trying to make the best movie possible.
When you guys were doing the show, social media was not exactly as prevalent as it is now. During filming there’s a lot of Instagram pictures that Doug’s been putting up, but I’m curious how that plays into the movie, have you guys been working that in?
It’s amazing how, and you guys know this, but it’s just amazing to me when we first started, we shot the pilot in the Fall of 2003, there was nothing, there was no anything. There was no TMZ, there was no Perez Hilton, there was no online presence at all, you were either in the NY Post or the National Enquirer but that was it. Now it’s just like instant kind of information across the board, it’s changed so much and I think for the better. It’s nice to have that sort of information at your fingertips, sometimes it’s a little tricky, and you guys all know I’m sure. We don’t tackle social media that much per se in the movie, but certainly in real life it’s had its effect on how we’ve approached this movie and what we’re allowed to tweet, not tweet, Instagram; there’s all sorts of guidelines and rules that we’re learning as we go along.
It seems that when the series ended Doug had more that he wanted to say about the show and these characters, thus the film. Did you feel like you had more that you wanted to do with Eric, that there was more to tell with these stories?
I’ve always said I would sign a 50 year contract for 'Entourage', it’s such a good gig and I would be around for as long as they would have us. You always feel like in a forum as rich as Hollywood there’s stories that can go on for years, I certainly was in no rush to put the character to bed, that’s for sure.
Could you see a sequel, a trilogy coming?
From your lips to God’s ears. A trilogy, I like the sound of that.
I am curious about where you end the movie, without being specific, but the fact is that you guys are really lucky to be able to make a movie and you never know if you can so another one, so how much do you leave, how much of a cliffhanger?
I don’t know necessarily that there’s much of a cliffhanger, I think the question that people will ask themselves is whether or not 'Hyde' is a good movie. Of course the guys think it’s good, but according to Doug and my opinion 'Hyde' is a great movie; now how successful it is, we’ll see. But the actual quality of the movie is good, which is important.
Talk about some of the subplots, we know the main plot is this Hyde movie, but what else is kind of going on, on the side?
There’s the main plot, I’m dealing with Sloan and the arrival of a newborn baby and trying to get that relationship squared away. Turtle is dealing with his newfound success and millions of dollars. Drama gets himself in trouble as always. Ari is trying to take over the world. Then there’s Vince and Eric who are directing and producing a $100 million studio movie, which is no small feat.
Does that put a strain on your friendship?
It always does, but we work through it. Our friendship is actually less strained in this movie than it has been in the past.
Is there enough there that people who didn’t watch the series are gonna be able to pick up and understand the movie as its own movie?
Yeah, one of the stipulations in making the movie was that you don’t need to have seen an episode, you can just watch the movie and they bring you up to speed pretty quick.
Now that Ari’s moved up to studio head Vince needs a new agent, is there kind of a getting used to a new guy, helping run his career with you guys?
Well, it’s funny, we haven’t gone there. That’s actually a good idea for the sequel, but it’s funny, theoretically in the past during the show even though Ari was the big man, he theoretically worked for us and Vince, in a sense. But now the tables have turned and he’s the boss and we work for him, so everybody’s running scared of Ari in this movie because we keep asking him for money and he doesn’t like to part with it.
How much of Hyde have you shot for the movie within the movie?
There’s a good chunk, there’s a good chunk. The things that I’ve seen from 'Hyde' are mind-blowing it’s great.
Is there ever a moment that you’re filming and it’s like, “This is a little too meta”? You’re an actor playing a producer who’s producing a movie within a movie, is there a moment where you take a step back?
Over the years people have asked me about the life imitating art and the blurry lines kind of thing. When it was happening I didn’t really feel that way, and then when the show ended and I had a few years to look back at it I realized how those lines really were blurred and how life was imitating art all over the place. You just don’t realize it when it’s happening, it’s something that you kind of feel after the fact.
So is it weird to get back into that?
Yeah, yeah. It’s fun but it’s like, “Here we are again.” We’re at the Warner Bros. lot, we have a big lighting balloon flying over our heads making sure that we look nice in this light.
I’m very curious about the last time the four of you guys went out just as friends, and the way you get treated by real people, are people buying you drinks?
Yeah, I think people get a kick out of seeing us together in a social situation. Lot of people offer to buy us drinks and wanna take pictures, people are so nice to us and are very gracious and supportive of the movie so you wanna make the best movie for them too; you certainly don’t want to let anybody down.
From what you’ve seen of what Doug’s shooting, has the look changed from the TV show, is it more cinematic?
Yeah it’s more cinematic, there’s more scope and I’ve said before it’s an episode on steroids. That really is the best way to describe it.
What scene has been your favorite to film so far?
I was having fun shooting that scene right up until I broke my leg, honestly. Seriously, playing football with Russell Wilson on the beach, I was living the dream for a second but that came into a crashing halt.
Did you guys actually film enough that day to get the shot?
We got it, we haven’t missed anything. There’s been no missed shots, I worked for three days on a broken leg, which probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do.
Where were you in the day of filming on the day when you were filming with Russell, when it happened?
Right in the middle of the day. I just picked myself off of the dirt and sucked it up, as they say, gut check time. Russell Wilson said, “Tighten those laces and rub a little dirt on it.” I was like, “Okay.”
What’s been your favorite cameo on this film?
Listen, I’m a huge sports fan, so when you get Tom Brady, we had Rob Gronkowski, and Russell Wilson. So I’m always gonna be partial to the sports cameos, so once again to go back to those, that day was the day for me. Too bad I was limping around and whining.
How difficult was it working with a guy who plays a character called Johnny Drama?
Working with [Kevin] Dillon is fantastic. My fear, if anything is to watch him eat, this guy was blessed with the metabolism -- it’s unbelievable, this guy can eat and it doesn’t go anywhere. Kevin is our commander in chief on the set, he’s the veteran and we all look to him.
Have you been surprised with the cultural impact of this series? I mean, there are star’s assistants referred to as, “That’s his Turtle.” It’s had a huge impact.
Yeah, It really has. Listen, no way you could ever in a million years have anticipated that it would be even a 10th of that. You do a pilot and you’re just hoping the show gets picked up, for it to be referenced on SportsCenter and that kind of thing has just exceeded all of our expectations times a hundred, literally. It’s been amazing.
On the TV show you’re trying to do like eight pages a day, limited amount of takes; on the movie you have a lot more time. Are you guys doing the same amount of takes, are you doing a lot more?
I think we do some more coverage, bigger shots, anything to try and make it the movie version as opposed to the TV version. The page count is smaller but we’re trying so hard to make the movie seem bigger that there’s just more cranes and cameras appearing out of higher places.
Kevin said three and a half pages a day, that still sounds like a lot for a movie.
Kevin doesn’t know anything (laughter). No, no, it’s not a lot for a movie, it all depends on what kind of movie; it’s probably not a lot for 'Wolf of Wall Street' but for a normal studio movie three and a half to four is usually the sweet-spot.
Was the script for this an idea that Doug had talked about, sort of for the final season, was it always the same idea or did he want to do it for the show?
It changed a bunch, it evolved a lot, but he kept it under wraps for a while until he really had a rock solid story, he didn’t want anybody to get married to something and then have it not be there so he kept it under wraps for as long as he could.
How closely did you guys keep in touch after the show?
Very close, dinner once a week and things like that.
Do you have any other feature films coming out?
I directed a movie called 'Dear Eleanor' that I’m in post-production right now. I do a lot of directing, I directed an ESPN 30 for 30 called Big Shot. I spend as much time directing as I can, it’s a direction I want to move into.
Would you ever direct something with one of the other guys from Entourage?
Of course, absolutely.
Has that talk ever come up?
Yeah, It’s just that a lot has to happen.
What have you taken on the most from Doug as a director?
I’ve learned a lot form Doug, Doug’s all about the words. He’s performance-driven and that’s the most important thing for him, which I’ve learned and it’s a good thing to learn.
Do you see yourself more directing in the future or kind of balancing the two?
I think you can do both. Lots of guys do both. I’ll always be an actor, I love acting, directing there’s a little bit more work involved so you have to cut out more time to do that. But yeah, I’d like to be back behind the camera pretty soon.
Your relationship with Ari in the show he’s always giving you a hard time, in real life does he kind of kid around with you, give you a hard time?
No, Jeremy [Piven] and I have known each other for a long time.
I’m sure you’re friends, but does he give you a hard time?
No, he’s far more kind in real life than on the show.
He’s also kept in touch with you guys?
Of course, yeah. All the time.
Who’s the one that tries to get everyone to break into laughter on the set and who’s the one who breaks the most?
Oh, Kevin Dillon, brings the house down three or four times a day. He’s hilarious, he’s personally my favorite character on the show. Even in scenes with him it’s hard to keep a straight face sometimes.
He has a lot of great one-liners and just the way he acts about situations, how much is that on the page versus him just improving a lot here and there?
It’s all on the page, but it’s on the page because Doug hears his voice and puts it on the page, if that makes any sense. That’s what showrunner/writers do, they hear the characters’ voices and they put the words in their mouths.
Has there been a scene when you guys were filming that just was not working, that everyone came together to try to figure it out?
Yeah it’s usually something we try to adjust the night before or the time leading up before that, we try to have all problems settled before we actually get to the set.
So (you work it out) in the read-through for the movie?
Yeah, the read-through or I’m looking to call Doug like, “Hey, I’m looking at this scene, this is a little weird, what do you think of this or that?” His phone’s open 24 hours a day to thoughts and ideas.
Entourage is in theaters June 3, 2015.