Entourage is among my all-time favourite shows and I’ve even got a HUGE framed Entourage poster in my house. Pretty much like everyone else, two characters in Entourage stood out for me: Ari Gold and Johnny Drama. But while the world, understandably so, fawned over the cult Ari Gold, I’ve always loved Drama a lot more. Drama has heart… he’s a guy who’d live and die for his friends, and no matter how often he keeps hitting rock bottom, he has the tenacity of never giving up!
And all credit for making Drama such an awesome character goes to the inimitable Kevin Dillon. Easily one of the most underrated characters on TV, Kevin really *should* have won an Emmy in the three-times he was nominated (and lost to Jeremy Piven/Ari Gold). Nevertheless, back when I was working with Hindustan Times five years ago, I spent a LOT of time chasing down Kevin for an interview. And it did happen, in October, 2010, at the end of the seventh season of Entourage, and it was an AWESOME, long, 45-minute interview that had be gushing like a fanboy. (Check out that comprehensive interview on all things Drama and Entourage here: https://tanejamainhoon.com/2014/01/26/kevindillon/)
So when the Entourage movie got a release date, I knew I had to try and speak to him again, for two reasons: a) I’m *STILL* a Drama/Entourage fanboy, and b) I want to do my part in spreading the word about what, I’m already damn sure, is going to be KICKASS: The Entourage Movie! So I reached out to Kevin’s super sweet agent, Lisa, who I’ve also had the opportunity to meet when I went to LA a few years ago. And Lisa promptly connected the dots and got me another 20 minuter telephonic interview with Kevin, in the middle of the mad press tour he’s been at.
This is, again, Kevin’s only second India interview, and the only Entourage movie interview done in India so far. So it’s, as they call it, an EXCLUSIVE! As expected, it was super fun talking to Kevin again. He remains just as sweet, fun, and fantastic a gentleman to talk with, although he sounded really exhausted with all the press he’s been doing. Still, he did remember our previous interview and how much fun it was, and even remembered where he was when we spoke! What a guy. Speaking with him always feels like ‘VICTORY!!!!!!’ Check out his interview as the cover story of The Sunday Guardian, out in papers today. Here’s the link again: http://goo.gl/KQfxP7
‘If the movie does well, we may do a second one!’
Three times Emmy-nominated Kevin Dillon, who played the lovable Johnny Drama on the cult HBO hit show Entourage, is back as Drama in the Entourage Movie. In his only India interview, he talks about the best and worst part of playing Drama, the chances of a sequel and the criticism that the movie’s ‘misogynistic’.
The Entourage film took some time to happen! The show ended in 2011 and it’s been a long four year wait.
The first time we even thought about doing a movie was when the Sex in the City movie came out and did really well. We all thought, ‘Hmm, maybe we can get a movie as well, you know, sicne we’re a HBO half hour comedy too (chuckles)’. And by the end of season 8, I was pretty confident that we would come back to do a movie. But then, a couple of years went by and I was starting to wonder if it was really going to happen. Thank God Doug Ellin finally wrote the script! I believe it was Mark Wahlberg who cracked the whip on him and said ‘Hey Doug, you’ve got to write the script. Now’s the chance… the door’s closing. So if you don’t do it now, it’s not going to get done.’ Finally Doug wrote a script and he wrote a good one!
How was it being back with the boys? I know you got really thick with the guys during the show; Kevin Connolly and Jerry Ferrara were the Best Men at your wedding too. So the reunion must’ve been fun.
You know, it wasn’t a big reunion because we’re such good friends that I had been seeing these guys all along. We still talk to each other all the time, go out to dinner, hang out; so it wasn’t like we hadn’t seen each other in a while. But what we hadn’t done is that we hadn’t acted with each other in a long time, so to just act with the guys, was great. We’ve also got a certain pacing to the way our dialogue is, it’s really fast and really snappy. It was kind of cool to get to bounce the lines around like that you know, I’ve done other shows, and it’s not the same thing.
It’s good seeing you all back! You guys have been having a blast during promotions too. I saw the Ellen Show clip, where you all played ‘Never Have I Ever’. It was funny to see that Kevin Connolly seems to be more of a player than all of you. (Link: https://goo.gl/tRB7NT)
(Laughs) Yes, yes, he actually won that. I mean, we didn’t expect that to happen. We didn’t know she was going to do that (Laughs). But I guess it was funny and yeah, Connolly’s a lot of fun, and he likes to go out, and party and have some fun, so… (chuckles). The promotion’s been a good time. It’s been good fun, but it’s been exhausting, you know. We’ve been all over the place; we’ve just been trying to push this movie.
You sound tired, man.
(Chuckles) I’m exhausted! I’m jet lagged too. So we flew in from LA and the next morning we’re doing press. So I’m absolutely shot, I’m really shot. But it’s been fun hanging out with the guys again.
I’ve read how the first scene you guys shot was at a yacht with lots of gorgeous women. How distracting was it to start off the movie with that all around you? How’d you guys get back into the rhythm?
(Chuckles) Yeah, I mean it was a pretty amazing scene to start with. On a big giant yacht, with beautiful, naked women pretty much everywhere. And you know, it was a little distracting in the beginning but you’ve come there to do your job and you carry on! It was a fun scene. (Pause) I’ll have to say that this job’s always been the best job I’ve ever had. Playing Johnny Drama, with all his layers, is great. But doing the movie was better than ever. It made me appreciate how great the show was, how much fun I had while I was doing it, this was as much fun as you can have while working on a show or on a movie. I think all of us guys just had as much fun as we could possibly have while filming.
Yeah, Johnny Drama’s such an iconic character. How easy or difficult was it to get back into his shoes? Do you have a routine that helps you get into character as Drama?
Well, I took a little time to prepare, so I watched some episodes from earlier seasons, just to kind of get back into the vibe, by seeing some of the things I did as a reminder. But I’ve played this guy for 8 seasons, so once I started bouncing the dialogue with the other guys, it, kind of, came back pretty easily. He’ so much fun to play, and he’s got a little bit of Machismo, you know what I mean? There is a certain walk that Drama has. I have a walk for him that’s different than the way I walk and it’s the way he kind of swings his arms around and my chest gets all puffed out, it’s what I call ‘the Johnny Drama walk’. Once I get that down, I work on his talk. He also has a different way of speaking, where he, kind of, ‘deep notes’ a lot, you know. I drop to a deeper tone than normal (does the tone).
What was the best part of getting back to playing Drama?
Uhh… I think the best part is that the character is so much fun. He’s a total nut job, he’s got a lot of issues, he’s got a lot of insecurities, but what he has is that he has a lot of drive, and he’ll do whatever it takes to be famous. He just wants to be famous! But the part I love most about him is his heart, because he’s got a really big heart. He loves his brother, he loves his friends and he’ll do anything for them. And that’s what Entourage is also really all about.
Was there a worst part to being Johnny Drama again?
(Pause) I guess the worst part would be that I’ve just been trying hard to not get typecasted as Johnny Drama and then I’ve, kind of, stepped right back into it. You play him again and you’re starting over again. You know, I’ve had some nice offers after Entourage ended, but Dramas’s the kind of part you have to fight your way out of. People, when they see me, call me ‘Johnny’ or call me ‘Drama’. They call Turtle Turtle. But yeah, the good outweighs the bad in so many ways. I love playing the character, I love the dialogue I get, so we’ve all loved coming back to the movie again. And in the movie, I really got lucky. Doug Ellin gave me some really good stuff to do in it, so I was really blessed with the character here.
Well I’ve read that the good stuff you’re talking about includes a Johnny Drama sex tape… of him masturbating. People are calling it ‘Full Frontal Drama’.
(Laughs hard) I know, it’s funny, it’s funny. I was just talking to someone about how Vince, like, slept with 38 girls during all the seasons of Entourage, and, of course, E gets a lot of girls too, and in fact, in the movie, E ends up getting all the girls. But what do I get in the movie? I get a sex tape to do, with myself! But it was a funny scene to watch. (Chuckles) It was even stranger watching the screening in New York with my family over there, so there’s always embarrassing moments to playing Johnny Drama. He’s an embarrassment.
We’ve all loved Drama because he’s never really changed much. But is there something you’ve got to do in the movie that you never got to do in the show?
I don’t want to give away what happens in the movie, but there is a real great pay out for Johnny Drama. Something great happens to him, something that he always wanted. I can’t give it away, but yeah, I had a really nice arc in this one, you know. It’s tough being Drama, because things are always going to be tough on him, but it’s a nice payout this time (chuckles).
So there’s over 30 celebrity cameos in the movie too including Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba, Mark Wahlberg and Pharrell. Who’d you have most fun with?
I had a good time when Jon Favreau came on. Doug didn’t have anything written for him, because a lot of these cameos come on at the last second. It’s almost like, ‘Hey, I see Mike Tyson there’ and Mike Tyson’s brought in for a cameo an hour later. Jon Favreau also came in at the last second and Doug said, ‘Why don’t you guys go workshop something, do a little improv and see what you can come up with’. And that’s what we did. We didn’t get to do constant improv in the show since most of it is scripted and that’s the way Doug loves it. But every once in a while, like in this situation, he gave me the greenlight to do a little improv and you’ll see it was a lot of fun.
I know there aren’t any Indian actor cameos in this film but is there anyone you’d like to bring in, if there’s a next movie?
(Strongly) Oh, heck yeah… heck yeah. There’s the girl from Slumdog Millionaire…. Freida Pinto, she’s beautiful. She could be good for the second one! Johnny Drama never gets the girls so I’m sure she’ll end up with Vince (chuckles). But she’s a beauty, yeah.
Let me ask you this – If a movie was made on you guys and the making of Entourage, who’d you like to play you?
(Laughs) Who could play me? I don’t know, maybe my brother Matt (Dillon) could play me. He’s close to me, we look and sound kind of similar. I’d certainly pick him as number one. There’s a lot of great actors who’d probably do a pretty decent job. Whoever would do it would enjoy it, because it’s fun playing me playing Johnny Drama!
Matt Dillon’s now on TV too, with Wayward Pines. Did you have any advice to offer him with all your experience during Entourage?
No, no! I don’t give him advice. He’s always giving me advice… he’s my older brother. You know, it used to be, back in the old days, movie actors did movies, TV actors did TV, and they didn’t really crossover. I think it’s really cool now that movie actors can do TV, and go back to movies and TV actors can do movies too. That’s great. I’m dying to see Wayward Pines. I’m waiting till all this press is done. I’ve got it all recorded so I can watch it at a go. I hear it’s really cool.
Do you ever see you and the guys getting together for a business venture post the movie?
Yeah, yeah, I can always consider doing something like that. You know, we all have our little businesses going on the side, like Jerry’s got a sandwich place, I own a couple of bars and restaurants in New York City, a place in Upstate New York, so you know, we all do, but yeah, absolutely. If something comes up, a good business opportunity, I think we’d all consider it.
What else are you going to be upto after the movie’s over? Kevin Connolly’s going into direction, is that something you’d be interested in too?
Not really. I love acting, not that I wouldn’t consider directing. But I’m really about acting, you know. I’d consider both TV and movies, we’ll see what happens. I haven’t been able to look at anything at the moment. This press tour’s gone on for the last couple of months, so it’s been a real grind. I’m just going to take a couple of weeks off to rest before I even think about anything. But hopefully, if the movie does well, maybe we’ll do a second one.
A sequel sounds awesome! Could there be a chance of a Viking Quest spinoff too, sometime down the line?
You know, if there was a spinoff, I always thought it would be cool to do a Drama and Turtle spinoff. I don’t think it will happen, but I always thought it could be cool. It would be tough to do Viking Quest, because Drama was younger when he did Viking Quest and now I’m older, but it’s funny you asked… I actually did have to put the Viking Quest back on for a brief moment in the movie. So you’ll see me wearing the costume again, which is pretty funny (chuckles). I always loved that whole aspect of the storyline, and all the stuff that came with up.
So you mean there’s going to be a Johnny Drama ‘Victory!’ moment in the movie?
I think, I think you can look forward to that. (Chuckles) Yes, you can!
That’s something we’ll be looking forward to! But the movie’s out all over and while the fans seem to be loving it, there’s been criticism that it’s misogynistic, and that’s a criticism the show used to get too. What are your thoughts on this?
People have to realise that this is a comedy. And it’s a comedy about five guys, so it’s going to be seen through the eyes of the guys. We’ve got realistic guy talk, and this is the way guys talk sometimes. I think it’s wrong to say that. I don’t think we shot it that way, I think we have strong female characters. Most of the women I know in my life, who’re people who’ve seen the show, have enjoyed the show, and they’ve enjoyed the movie too. So no matter what the critics say, I know for a fact that fans are enjoying it. We’ve got an A minus as far as the polls with fans coming out of the theaters have been. That’s a pretty good score.
I’m pretty sure fans of the show are going to love the movie in India too. You know in our last interview five years ago, you told me that you’d be coming down to India soon. Why haven’t you come here yet?
You know what, I’ve been too busy, I’ve been too busy, man. I do want to go to India, I just haven’t got the chance to. It’s kind of tough to, you know. There’s always something going on. I’ve got family in New York and LA, and there’s always a TV show or a movie or something else in the way. But I’ll come to India soon, I promise!
Check out the trailer of the Entourage Movie here:
The movie releases in theaters in India on Friday, June 19. Go check it out!!
P.S. If you loved Entourage and are looking for similar shows to watch, check out my ‘Shows for Bros’ recommendations piece: https://tanejamainhoon.com/2015/06/14/showsforbros/
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Liked/disliked the interview? Think I should’ve asked Kevin Dillon about Poonam Dhillon? Leave comments below! 🙂
Note: An edited version of this article first appeared in The Sunday Guardian in the October 14, 2015 issue.
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