The masses may identify him as Ari Gold from Entourage, yet of all the adjectives or pronouns one may conjure up in attaching to Jeremy Piven, it is perhaps the one his mother verbalized that impressed him the most. In taking on a psychedelic role of Ron in Mark Pellington’s I Melt With You – which also stars Rob Lowe, Thomas Jane, Christian McKay, and Carla Gugino – Jeremy Piven’s mother called his son “brave.” Interestingly enough, this scribe agrees with his mother, even though we have never met. Whether or not audiences will agree may be left open to interpretation, but alas, there is no doubt Jeremy Piven shined in what is one of his most dramatic roles ever.
Jeremy spent a few moments chatting it up with Buzzine’s Parimal M. Rohit, talking philosophy, acting, risk-taking, character development, American culture, and, of course, I Melt with You.
Parimal M. Rohit: This is quite a courageous film for you to take. These are not your average run-of-the-mill characters that could be interpreted in so many different ways by the audience. What attracted you to the film and role?
Jeremy Piven: With my character, he is so side-tracked with being the breadwinner that it drives him into doing all the wrong things and being immoral. Then he has to face himself and, in this particular weekend, he has to face all of his friends. All of these feelings they have toward each other that have been lying dormant for all these years, they just kind of unleashed upon each other. That’s what you look for as an actor -- to play those types of scenarios and stakes.
PMR: How much of a risk was this film for you to take? Are you in a position where you could take on such a role and film, where others who are younger or less experienced cannot?
JP: You would be exposed doing this movie no matter where you are, no matter what your track record is. It just matters what this one is and that you rise to this particular occasion. That’s why we do what we do.
PMR: The characters do not see themselves as cowards in the film. They see themselves as loyal to each other. What’s your take on that?
JP: Yeah, but there is still that duality of: yes, he does decide to be loyal to his friends and loyal to this pact they took back in the day, but he does not have the courage to face his wife and look her in the face and not be the man he presented himself to be. It’s not that simple; the movie isn’t that simple. It’s very interesting because these characters are, at times, pretty despicable, and we rode this very fine line. It would’ve been very easy to give these characters ‘they have all the potential in the world’ and then the tragedy of where they end up. But they are not those guys. They are incredibly flawed. My mother turned to me at one point – she’s been my acting teacher since I was eight years old – she’s never used the word ‘brave’ to any performance that I’ve ever done, but for some reason, said that word. It’s maybe because these characters...parts of them are pretty despicable. At times, it would be easy to write them off. It’s our job to mine for some sort of integrity or flesh it out with some other colors within it all. I think this is a different movie than anything you’ve seen.
PMR: It’s also been discussed how Americans are youth-obsessed and conditioned to not think past 40.
JP: That’s basically what’s happened in this movie -- guys that have been reliving their youth and dumbing down other senses a nod so that they can’t feel, and then suddenly, all these turn-of-events happen. They have to face themselves and then each other, and it’s shocking to all of them. My character in particular is so side-tracked, so distracted with being the provider and the man, and he is defined by numbers, as we are in this culture right now. Everyone is gathering their statistics and figuring out everything. That just seems to be a huge waste of time, (such as) focusing on this number 40. People are looking for the Golden Boy and the young one, that kind of stuff. It’s a slippery slope.
PMR: Here’s a bit of a conceptual question. It’s so easy to walk away from this film with negative thoughts and emotions. What can we positively take away from I Melt With You?
JP: There’s a pretty easy way to not go down this slippery slope, and that’s to take inventory with yourself and your loved ones. There’s something exhilarating about seeing a movie that is true to itself, knowing that you don’t have to live that life. If something is done with passion and clarity and, hopefully, on a high level, it’s inspiring. I’ve seen incredibly depressing movies that I’ve just been inspired by. It sounds pretentious, but that’s art. Sure, (I Melt With You) is really, really dark, but you don’t have to live in that darkness because you were witness to it. We don’t have to watch reality television and watch people acting out to feel better about ourselves. There are other ways to do it.
Magnolia Pictures' 'I Melt with You' is in limited release December 9, 2011.