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What Happens When ‘Entourage’ Star Kevin Connolly Talks to the Real-Life Ari

Connolly (right) with Entourage co-stars Jeremy Piven and Adrian Grenier.Photo by Getty Images

Entourage buddy and Long Island native Kevin Connolly makes his directorial debut at the Tribeca Film Festival tomorrow with The Gardener of Eden, a whip-smart film about a small-town Jersey loser who accidentally becomes a hometown hero. (Read New York’s interview with the film’s star, Lukas Haas, here.) Last night, Connolly told Logan Hill that life is looking more like Entourage every day.

So are you nervous?
Yeah. We just shot me out so I can be in Tribeca Wednesday. When I finished work today, I had to sneak out — I didn’t want anyone to wish me luck. I’m feeling the heat. It’s Tuesday. [The premiere] is on Thursday. So two days from now, it will all be over. I mean, I want to sell the movie. People say, “Maybe it does well and maybe you get another job” — that’s not a victory. I have responsibilities to the people who gave me money, who gave me this shot, to my actors.

Do you feel more like your Entourage character, Eric, now that you’re not just in front of the camera?
It’s so strange — I’ve been an actor in Hollywood for 27 years and my life has never been more like the show than it has been working on this movie. It’s like Vince and me trying to make Queens Boulevard, running around, meeting with people — I find myself on the phone with Graham King, reigning Oscar champion, and I don’t even know what I’m talking about, telling him, “Graham, I need this!” I even had a phone call with the real Ari: [legendary talent agent] Ari Emanuel.

You’re kidding.
No, I did — and he didn’t know it was me, and it was just too weird for me to tell him. I had just finished this three-page scene with Jeremy playing Ari, and then I’m on the phone with the real Ari trying to get an actor for my movie, thinking, God, this is weird.

Did you get your actor?
No. ‘Course not!

So when you get here, what’s the plan? Sounds like your buddies are all going to be here: Leo, Tobey Maguire …
For everybody else, going to Tribeca, they’re like, “There’s a great after-party. We’re all going out.” Me? I’m a wreck, but I’ve got people from all over, on a plane from this place or that place, coming out to support me. I’m looking forward to it, but right now I’m walking around the house nervous, mad that I’m outta cigarettes. Everybody will be ready to go rage, but maybe I’ll be drowning my sorrows.

Your movie kept me off-balance the whole way through. I kept wondering, When does this turn into a satire? A straight-up comedy?
The main reason I tried to make this is that it didn’t really fit neatly in one box. I like genre bending. The film is very peculiar. It’s dark, but you find yourself amused.

It could have been a straight-up farce, but you keep it realistic.
Yeah, that was something I was trying to do. Like the fight between Lukas and Giovanni: It’s the wimpiest fight ever. Just like in my high school. Everybody’d go outside, and two guys would kind of smack each other around a bit — and we always just went back into the party afterwards.

Is any of that inspired from growing up in New York?
Thematically, it’s about where you fit in your hometown, and it’s about this feeling of getting caught in the riptide of your hometown. I mean, I grew up in Long Island, and I related to that. You can jump on the train and be in the city in 45 minutes. But you are not in the city.

Do you still have family here?
Oh, yeah: My brother, my whole family are in New York. We’re having the after-party at Marquee. I’m friends with the guys over there.

So are you serious about being a director?
It’s the dream thing for me. I’m going to try and do an acting job this summer, though. My agent hates my directing career! It takes too long and you don’t make any money, but I’m going to try to direct something the following summer. You say these things, but it never really works like that. — Logan Hill

What Happens When ‘Entourage’ Star Kevin Connolly Talks to the Real-Life Ari