Jeremy Piven Talks American Muscle Cars, Hot Wheels, and Being a Jewish Buddhist
now he rolls
with his PR
BY Joy Chi
Over the years, weíve grown accustomed to thinking of Jeremy Piven as a manipulative Hollywood agent thanks to his role as Ari Gold on HBOís Entourage. However, Piven demonstrates a much more humble characteristic off camera. While Ari is wedded to money and is seen pushing a Lexus, or racing a Ferrari, Pivenís taste in rides is in fact geared more towards classic Americana (he lists Mustangs and Broncos as his personal favorites). His well-known affection for cars and humorous acting caught the attention of Hot Wheels (yes, the toy company) executives, who invited him to participate in their latest viral campaign featuring a four-man stunt-performance group (lamely) named, Team Hot Wheels. Piven wonít be driving himself off a cliff or screeching down a desert anytime soon, but has showcased his comic chops in a video produced by Funny or Die as a desperate hopeful who wants to join the mysterious driving team. At a kick-off event at the 2011 New York Toy Fair last Friday, Drip spoke to the Emmy-Award-winning actor about his favorite whips, hydrogen vehicles, and being a Jewish Buddhist.
Drip: How did you first get involved with this campaign to promote Team Hot Wheels?
Jeremy Piven: The Hot Wheels team approached me and asked, ďWould you want to do a sketch with Funny or Die?Ē And Iím such a huge fan of Funny or Die it was kind of a no brainer. I grew up playing with Hot Wheels, and itís also a great excuse to do some comedy. As it turns out itís actually a pretty cool way to get information about something because youíre just laughing and having a great time. You can kind of look at it without really being sold something. My job is just to go in and do comedy. Thatís what I did, so I had a blast.
Drip: What else do they have lined up for you?
Jeremy Piven: Nothing that I know of. This is it. This is the extent. Iím going to go check out their stunts just because I want to. They look incredible. Theyíre going to break records. So Iím just going to Indy 500 as a fan to check it out.
Drip: Are you familiar with action sports?
Jeremy Piven: Iím not fully familiar with them. Iíve seen them, but I donít know all their names. Carey Hartís the last guy I watched so Iím a little dated.
Drip: Weíre told that youíre a car guy. Whatís your favorite?
Jeremy Piven: You know, believe it or not, I have a 1977 Ford Bronco. I love it, and Iím still maintaining it at this moment.
Drip: Why Ford Bronco?
Jeremy Piven: I donít know. Iíve always liked the Bronco. Itís up and off the ground, and there are huge wheels. Itís like a ragtop so youíre up higher, and you get the air and everything. Itís just a great cruising vehicle.
Drip: Did you pimp it out?
Jeremy Piven: Uh, no. Not really. I need to. I need to do something to it. I have a 1971 Oldsmobile 442, which is really cool. I was shooting I Melt With You in Big Sur not too long ago, and was at this car show. I bought this car there, and I fell in love with it. It has an 8-track player in it, and itís really nice.
Drip: Do you prefer the older cars?
Drip: You have a green Chevy Camaro, right?
Jeremy Piven: [Laughs.] That was, um, I was just borrowing that for a moment. Chevy people just let me borrow it for like a day. Unfortunately, you canít really go under the radar, and just drive a really beautiful and fast car. It was lime green so the joke was on me. It happens.
Drip: There have been reports that youíre an advocate of hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Jeremy Piven: Yeah, absolutely. I donít have a lot of experience with electric cars, but I drove this hydrogen BMW, which was amazing. It was so smooth and fast you never wouldíve guessed it was hydrogen-based. Basically, if each governor stepped up and made some hydrogen stations we can get a move into that. At the moment, Iím driving this amazing Lexus hybrid, which youíll just never know that itís a hybrid. The only thing youíre doing is saving gas.
Drip: Maybe promoting
fuel-efficient vehicles could be your next thing after this.
Publicist: Heís into vehicles.
Jeremy Piven: Yeah, Iíd like to.
Drip: What was your dream car growing up as a kid?
Drip: Were you able to acquire it eventually?
Jeremy Piven: My father actually bought one, and we drove it for a while. It was amazing. When it ran its course my father took the body of the car and put it in our garden. It had tomato plants going through it, and I used it as a jungle gym when I was a kid. It had many different lives.
Drip: Whatís the wildest thing youíve done inside a car? Both legal and illegal.
Jeremy Piven: [Pauses, and looks at his publicist.]
Publicist: You donít have to answer the latter part. [Laughs.]
Jeremy Piven: Umm, yeah, you know IÖ
Publicist: Typical teenage stuff.
Jeremy Piven: I think I get distracted too easily, so nothing really too exciting in terms of cars.
Drip: Did you ever impress anyone with your whips?
Jeremy Piven: I donít think so. At least, no oneís ever told me that Iíve been impressive as any way, shape, or form as a driver. Iíve been told Iím unimpressive. Iíve been told that a couple times.
Drip: Well, everybody
Drip: In The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard you played a car salesman. Would you ever sell cars?
Jeremy Piven: I think it would be really fun, but I think Iíll probably hit the wall and be terrible at it. I donít think I have a lot of endurance as a salesman.
Drip: My friend owns an í86 Corolla. How would you sell that?
Jeremy Piven: I would say, ďThis is a sleeper hit of the season. I know what youíre thinking, Ď1986 Corolla? Iím a grown man. What am I doing driving that?í But why donít you take this car, which is actually over-achieving and go completely under the radar. Live the dream.Ē
Drip: That sounds
awesome. Iíll tell him that.
Drip: Is Ari Emanuel, the Hollywood super agent, which your character Ari Gold is based off, happy with your portrayal on Entourage?
Jeremy Piven: You know? I have no idea. I donít have a clue. But I could tell you that if he didnít like it, I would have heard about it. So I think silence is a good sign in that particular case.
Drip: You consider yourself a Jewish Buddhist. Can you expand on that?
Jeremy Piven: Yeah, Iím just a student of Buddhism, and I just want to learn more and more about it. I think no harm can come from meditating. Anytime you go in working toward the presence, and not rushing, then I think thatís a beautiful thing. I was born Jewish, both of my parents are Jewish, and I was Bar Mitzvahíd, but I think you can be whatever you want to be in this life.