After eight seasons on HBOís Entourage, Jerry Ferrara is saying good-bye to his character, Turtle, the lovable, scheming sidekick to Adrian Grenierís Vince Chase. Like the guy he plays on screen, Ferrara is incredibly loyal, dreams big and enjoys his friendsí successes more than his own. Iíve seen it firsthand as a card-carrying member of The Gentlemenís League, the Fantasy Football crew he assembled with close friends that is now the basis for a show on DirecTV. I caught up with Ferraraówho also happens to be my golfing buddyóat Mondrian Los Angeles to talk about some of his favorite Entourage memories, what the future holds and the challenges of being part of pop-culture history.
BEN LYONS: Was there pressure this season to go out with a bang?
JERRY FERRARA: Yes, you want to go out strong, but this last season was really just about enjoying it. I made a pact with myself I wouldnít let the normal stresses of working a 14-hour day get to me anymore. In the past, if I had a four-hour break, Iíd normally go see a movie or go home, but this season I stayed on set, put on headphones and watched the other guys work in the monitors.
BL: Do you feel like you should have been doing that the whole time?
JF: Almost, yeah. Not to say people didnít work hard in the pastóit just felt like this season everyone was working that much harder.
BL: Now that the show is done, what do you see everybody doing moving forward?
JF: I see Kevin Connolly directing, 100 percent. Heís so motivated and hungry with it. He directed his second episode of the show this year; he did a feature film (Gardener of Eden), and heís done commercials. I see [Kevin] Dillon having another long successful run with TV, less ensemble, maybe more of a two-hander. Entourage was really the first time he could showcase how funny he is. [Ed. Note: Dillon stars in the pilot How to be a Gentleman on CBS this fall.] Adrian [Grenier] has a million projects, and I think heíll do more documentaries. He has his hands in so many things.
BL: So that leaves you.
JF: Iíd like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement [laughs]. Honestly Iím looking forward to more acting opportunities, but Iím really excited about producing and writing, too. I wrote two episodes of the show this year, which is like starting a whole new career. Iíve been acting for 15 years and on this show for eight, but with writing you start at the bottom of the pack and work your way up. All I want is longevity. I want to do this until Iím not on this earth anymore.
BL: What did you do after Entourage wrapped?
JF: I started shooting the movie Think Like A Man three days after Entourage endedóit was an amazing distraction. Iím very happy it came along. Busy is the best thing you can be when youíre bummed out about something.
BL: Have you gone back to watch old episodes of the show?
JF: I watched season one when it came out, and I was so terrible in it, I canít even watch the rest. When I catch it on syndication as Iím flipping through channels, I hear my voice, and I literally change it as fast as I can. I was barking in one sceneóI didnít know what I was doing.
BL: I remember the day I got to play myself on the show in the episode that took place at the premiere of The Great Gatsby. We shot all through the night, and I remember thinking to myself, Man, this is really tough. What was the hardest day or moment for you over the years?
JF: That day was tough because we had 300 extras at the Mann Chinese Theatre until six in the morning.
BL: And you had to wear a tuxedo with sneakers.
JF: Ha! Thatís rightóthat drove me crazy! I had to put myself aside and do what the character would have done, and he would have loved that, but I hated it. But the hardest thing was that we always took a trip and shot somewhere. Season two we went to Sundance, season three, Vegas. [In season] four, we went to Cannes. We flew in for 72 hours, shot 14 hours each day, and I lost my passport two days before filming.
BL: Plus, youíre terrified of flying.
JF: Iím scared of flying, and I had never left the country at that point in my life. I had to go get a new passport, and of course a month later, I found the original. Thatís my life.
BL: Any chance of the show [Entourage] returning?
JF: I donít know. I know that many people did not like the ending, Ari [Jeremy Piven] gets a call that leaves tons of possibilities. But truthful I doubt it because everyone is working on new projects. Rex has a new series coming, Dillon show is about to air and all are pretty booked. But Iíd never completely rule it out. Itís not like any of us died.
BL: You and the caps?
JF: It was so simple never having to comb my hair and that was a trait of realism I got to bring to my character [Turtle]. I rock a cap in a New York Minute. I have a collection out of this world with my Yankees cap being #1.
BL: How good are you at video games?
JF: I think as much as I play I could actually hold down a career in the gaming world. I play about 6-7 hours daily and even more when Iím not on set. I have played in a few celebrity tournaments and professional leagues and held my own. Make it a fully time gig and I think I would whip a lot of asses out there.