Film Michael Bodey gives the lowdown on the an­tic­i­pated movie ver­sion of En­tourage

En­tourage makes the tran­si­tion to cinema with­out los­ing the spirit of ca­ma­raderie (or the cameos) that pow­ered the TV se­ries, writes Michael Bodey

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Not even the cre­ator of En­tourage knew ini­tially whether the world wanted a film ver­sion of the tele­vi­sion se­ries. Doug Ellin re­calls hav­ing a deal to write a film screen­play as far back as sea­son five of the eight-sea­son com­edy-drama about a young movie star, Vin­cent Chase, and his ex­ploits in Los An­ge­les and be­yond with his three child­hood friends from New York.

Ellin ad­mits he didn’t take se­ri­ously the op­por­tu­nity to write an En­tourage screen­play un­til ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Mark Wahlberg, on whose early ex­pe­ri­ences the se­ries was loosely based, called him a year af­ter the show con­cluded in 2011 and asked: “Where’s the script?”

“I didn’t know if there was a real ap­petite for it or not but Mark as­sured me if I got the script done, he would get it made,” Ellin says.

The film had to over­come some hur­dles, not the least of which was get­ting the band back to­gether. Ellin spoke of “con­trac­tual is­sues” in 2013, say­ing he “wouldn’t bet” on the film hap­pen­ing af­ter re­ports key cast mem­bers, in­clud­ing Adrian Gre­nier and Jerry Fer­rara, were hold­ing out for big­ger pay­days.

But $US30 mil­lion ($39m) later, En­tourage has made it to the big screen, pick­ing up the story six months af­ter the se­ries con­cluded, with Vince (Gre­nier) head­ing to Paris with his new wife. The ques­tion now is whether the world wants it.

En­tourage bounced on to our TV screens back in 2004 as a sweet send-up of Hol­ly­wood life, en­livened by its in­sider gags and cameos. But the en­tourage — Gre­nier, Fer­rera’s Tur­tle, Kevin Dil­lon’s Johnny “Drama” Chase and Kevin Con­nolly’s Eric Mur­phy — didn’t grow through the se­ries. The the­matic through­line of the loy­alty of friends was swamped by its some­times ba­nal or sex­ist bro-ness. The en­tourage’s manager, Jeremy Piven’s ex­u­ber­ant Ari Gold, be­came the most in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter. And he didn’t re­ally need the en­tourage (in­deed, Ellin has just pub­lished the par­ody book The Gold Stan­dard, “writ­ten” by Ari Gold).

The film picks up with the en­tourage par­ty­ing on the Mediter­ranean and Ari re­tired and frus­trated in Italy — in fact, the story picks up in an elab­o­rate short film avail­able on­line that is a mar­ket­ing tie-in with Gen­eral Mo­tors, fea­tur­ing Ari’s love af­fair with a new con­vert­ible con­cept car, the Cadil­lac Ciel. Ellin’s in­se­cu­rity about the dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment for the film 10 years af­ter the TV se­ries be­gan is un­der­stand­able. He ob­serves “the busi­ness of Hol­ly­wood cer­tainly has (changed) but it doesn’t change for an ac­tor”.

“But the busi­ness of it has def­i­nitely got more Wall Street and cor­po­rate — 15 years ago peo­ple were happy to make a mil­lion bucks,” he adds. “Now agents dream of mak­ing a bil­lion bucks. The whole world has changed like that and Hol­ly­wood’s just a re­flec­tion of it.”

That changed busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment means War­ren Buf­fett can fea­ture among a host of amus­ing cameos, and the cen­tral con­ceit of the nar­ra­tive can be the en­tourage’s jolly ex­is­tence be­ing threat­ened by the clue­less fa­ther-and-son bil­lion­aires fund­ing the stu­dio (played by Billy Bob Thorn­ton and Ha­ley Joel Os­ment).

Ellin notes that the plot is “a very per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence”. “I deal with all this stuff all the time and the stuff in the movie is all real,” he says. “The movie is ob­vi­ously not about heart­break. It’s an as­pi­ra­tional, wish-ful­fil­ment movie, but that’s the re­al­ity in this world. We’ve got peo­ple out­side the Hol­ly­wood world who don’t care about movies, who just want to make a buck.”

Ul­ti­mately, Ellin was as­sured there would be de­mand for the film. En­tourage didn’t have the ben­e­fit of so­cial me­dia back when the TV se­ries be­gan, although “it was amaz­ing once we got on to so­cial me­dia a cou­ple of years back — you see peo­ple’s af­fec­tion for it”.

Con­nolly ap­pre­ci­ated the af­fec­tion for the show im­me­di­ately. He re­calls his overnight suc­cess af­ter be­ing seen in the first episode. “And I do mean overnight in the sense that I’d been act­ing for years and the show aired on a Sun­day night and the Mon­day I went into lunch at a restau­rant and ev­ery­one looked at me,” he says.

“It was strange. I’d been act­ing for 25 years but that sort of recog­ni­tion lit­er­ally hap­pened overnight and it was bizarre. To still be at it 12 years later is such a bless­ing.”

Con­nolly adds that is not the only rea­son why the four ac­tors have re­mained rel­a­tively close. They have shared a unique ex­pe­ri­ence now for 12 years. And he has no qualms about the view that the ac­tors might have been type­cast as their char­ac­ters.

“That’s why when peo­ple ask if I feel pi­geon­holed, I think there’s not one neg­a­tive thing about this ex­pe­ri­ence,” Con­nolly says. “It’s been a 100 per cent pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence and a great

ex­pe­ri­ence and I’m so grate­ful. I just feel so lucky. How did I get so lucky?”

The irony of ac­tors play­ing ac­tors now mov­ing to the real big screen isn’t lost on the close quar­tet. Con­nolly laughs and says that ear­lier in the day he had joked with Gre­nier that he and his char­ac­ter Eric “are at the same sort of level; my house looks like what Eric Mur­phy’s house would look like, but with fair­ness to Adrian, we need to do a few more En­tourages be­fore he has a house like Vince’s.”

The crit­i­cisms that have been harder to shake re­volve around En­tourage’s rel­e­vance and that the se­ries es­sen­tially be­came an ex­er­cise in wom­an­is­ing.

Con­nolly ac­cepts the ques­tion but de­fends his friends and Ellin.

“You’ve never met five nicer guys that are more re­spect­ful to women,” he says.

“Every­body loves their mother and sis­ters and the women in their lives, so you have a group of guys who are very, very re­spect­ful to women and so, yeah, I think it’s a sen­si­tive thing for some­one to in­sin­u­ate that, be­cause it’s just not how it is.”

He con­tin­ues: “We’re try­ing to de­pict what young guys do. Not only in Hol­ly­wood, it’s just how it is.

“And, play­ing devil’s ad­vo­cate, you could look at some of th­ese other shows — on Girls Lena Dun­ham has sex with dudes all the time, or Kim Cattrall in Sex and the City …

“And ask Em­manuelle Chriqui about her ex­pe­ri­ence with the testos­terone-driven En

tourage and she’d tell you she has five older broth­ers who would die for her.

“It is a sen­si­tive thing be­cause we are nice to women in our lives and it was never our in­ten­tion to be misog­y­nis­tic, but also the re­al­ity is re­al­ity,” Con­nolly says.

It is an as­pi­ra­tional film and se­ries. And one of the joys of the new film is see­ing Hol­ly­wood still will­ing to play along with the En­tourage mi­lieu. As Con­nolly notes: “Let’s face it, with the ex­cep­tion of Robert Alt­man’s The Player in 1992, have there been this many great cameos in a movie?”

The TV se­ries al­ways had a high sheen and by def­i­ni­tion had to be more cin­e­matic than most of its com­peti­tors. So the film steps up cin­e­mat­i­cally, both in con­tent and look.

For its bud­get, the film pops off the screen — although Ellin says “the show was al­ways a very cin­e­matic show so it lends it­self to a movie”.

Con­nolly en­joyed the time and space of the movie. Af­ter film­ing seven or eight pages of a script a day on the TV se­ries, he found the film shoot was a dif­fer­ent pace. “We were al­ways run­ning and gun­ning on the TV se­ries and there was an ex­cite­ment about it and it wasn’t bor­ing, but when you do a movie you go to 2½ pages a day,” he says.

“And when you have 2½ pages a day to do you can stop and look around and go, ‘ You know what would be a cool shot? Let’s do this.’ We were able to do more vis­ually with the re­sources and time that you are al­lot­ted when you’re shoot­ing a film.”

At its core, though, En­tourage the film stays loyal to the sim­ple theme of En­tourage the TV se­ries. It’s just about loy­alty, bro. Hug it out.

“Ab­so­lutely,” says Ellin. “It’s about friend­ship more than any­thing else. Hol­ly­wood is a back­drop and it’s a great back­drop that gives us heaps of stuff to draw from, but at the end of the day th­ese four guys could be from any­where. They could be the Han­gover guys.

“It wouldn’t mat­ter to me if they were fire­men or stock­bro­kers. Th­ese were best friends who came from noth­ing: work­ing-class guys who came to a fan­ta­sy­land.”

En­tourage is open na­tion­ally.



Clock­wise from main, scenes from

En­tourage fea­tur­ing Adrian Gre­nier, Jerry Fer­rara, Kevin Con­nolly, Jeremy Piven and Kevin Dil­lon, with Jes­sica Alba and Liam Nee­son, be­low right

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