All Rights reserved
Fans of Entourage, HBO's hit series about life in Hollywood's fast lane, know Adrian Grenier as Vince Chase, the blue-eyed star wonder. But in real life there's a decidedly non-showbiz side to Grenier in line with his Brooklyn roots (where he's built a sustainable home) and his rock-and-roll soul (he drums with the New York "country-glam rock-ukulele band" the Honey Brothers). Before his big break, Grenier starred in Harvard Man and The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, and took on smaller roles in films like John Waters's Cecil B DeMented. Before all his screen time, Grenier was a kid raised by a single mom--an experience he documents in A Shot in the Dark, premiering June 3 on HBO. I spoke with Grenier from the set of Entourage--where he was shooting episodes for the next season, beginning June 17--about reconnecting with his dad, being open to emotion, and Vince's coming out.
What I love about A Shot in the Dark is how it shows a vulnerable side of you. I think it's important as an artist, or an actor, in whatever art form you're participating in--to be willing to show the vulnerable parts of yourself. I'm a little nervous about it, but I try to push through that nervousness and insecurity and to see the larger picture and realize it's not all about me. There are a lot of people affected by this story in a positive way. I feel so much more confident when I step outside myself.
What makes you nervous about the film? I'm extremely sensitive to the way people could portray the story. I've seen a couple articles and things on TV about the documentary. The media, for the most part, tends to sensationalize and make things black and white, and create a villain for the sake of sensationalism. And the point of my movie, ultimately, is that there are no villains, there's no one who should be demonized. We're all collectively working toward the same goal, which is hopefully greater understanding and greater unity. That may sound corny but that sincerely was my goal.
You show the world the possibilities of forgiveness and love and that life can be messy but we can still deal with it. That's the reason I made the film. I understand that every publication has their agenda and style, and I respect that. I just hope there are some people out there that are able to focus on the more meaningful parts of the documentary. I worked so hard to create a balance that makes people in the film feel comfortable and confident about their participation. My dad felt threatened by my making the documentary because he was afraid of being demonized. I worked very hard to prove to him that wasn't my intention, and that the documentary was a process of bringing us together.
Has he been demonized? Not necessarily him, but his wife and my mother.
What I see is the opposite--I see a lot of love on the screen, a lot of desire for connection and belonging. Yes, that's true. When I first conceived of making the documentary, it was as a sort of humorous joke where I'd make an extremely sensationalist reality TV show where I'd demand back allowance from my dad and go and say, "Where have you've been all my life" and "You really fucked me up" --shock him by showing up at his door step. That's not really what I wanted to do--it was a joke. I knew I would never want to subject anybody--let alone my dad, no matter what he's done--to that kind of embarrassment and cruelty.
In the film, you are kind of saying to men that it's OK to feel, and this is part of who I am, in unapologetic ways. I hope the film does inspire more male bonding and feeling and sensitivity.
Do you think gay men have helped straight guys open up? Yeah, I think we all need to get in touch with that part in us that is the other. I certainly try not to mask or reject that part in me. As you see in the movie, my mother raised me to be in touch with my more feminine side. My mother's very in touch with her masculine side--she had to be my father and the disciplinarian in my life. I've well seen the break down of roles--at least typical social roles. I find it very freeing and empowering because I don't have to prove anything, I just have to be myself, which is a real treat. I'm very thankful for that.
Did finding your dad help you to know yourself better? In reality? My dad as a physical person? Yes. But moreover, on a symbolic level I found what "father" is, thus allowing myself to become a man in a sense. Through the film I was finally able to have the right of passage I never had in my teens with my father and to explore and find out what it means to be a man and then finally become my own man. That's what happens: Fathers teach their kids to be their own men and fathers. And I guess I'd never gone through that process until making this documentary.
So what 's a father to you? First he's a protector. Then he's a guy that teaches you how to protect yourself.
Can mothers offer that? Or in a different sense? I guess in another sense.
So let's switch gears to something wacky. You worked with John Waters. What was that like? It was a blast. I loved his script. He's awesome. I loved--absolutely loved--Cecil B. DeMented. It was one of my premier experiences. Now, John Waters is certainly his own man. His success seems predicated on a strong sense of self. He also started in the indie world, and it was totally a cult classic. I think he recognized there's life to making films that aren't necessarily blockbuster hits but are meaningful to an underground group of people.
What impact do you hope your film has? I'd like it to beat Spider Man numbers in the box office. [Laughs] That would be amazing! Really, I just want to share, and hopefully people will feel inspired and confident enough to explore their own situations and maybe be inspired to open their hearts a little to their parents--recognize that their parents are flawed too and that they could stand up and help their parents because their parents need help too.
So we can parent our parents, inspire and take that charge. Yeah, instead of playing the victim, stand up and be the solution.
Talking about solutions, you built a sustainable home, right? Yes, in Brooklyn. I spent a couple of extra bucks to make it environmentally friendly. I'm very proud and excited about it; it's a very quality living situation. There are low VOCs in the paints and adhesives. It's a nontoxic house with reclaimed wood and solar panels. I'm doing my humble part to try and help our very crucial situation.
Are we going to survive? On this planet? We'll see. I have a lot of faith in humanity. We'll rise to the occasion and overcome. It may take time--we are creatures of habit; we don't like to change much. But when we're put to the test and forced to, we'll make the necessary adaptation. You know I'm not so precious about this particular life, so if we have to go to another plane of existence or another planet or whatever it may be, I believe we'll continue somehow, someway.
Well, I know you need to get back to shooting. Can you give me any teasers--any inside scoop--on what's going to happen on Entourage this season? Vince comes out the closet. [Laughs]
Really now, will any of the characters ever come out of the closet? I wouldn't hold my breath. [Laughs] Maybe Ari with Lloyd...