Whatever you are feeling toward Entourage as an entity (a show that was nominated for 26 Emmys, yet gets its fair share of scorn), it’s hard not to feel good for Kevin Dillon.
“I was called Matt Dillon’s kid brother for a long time,” says the younger Dillon, who has genuinely created a character in Johnny “Drama” Chase that is very much part of the cultural zeitgeist, and who has very much separated him from his older brother in a way that even supporting parts in Platoon and The Doors never did.
It’s been four years since we last saw Johnny Drama, and not much has changed in his life. There’s something almost comforting about that. In the Entourage movie, Drama thinks he’s finally gotten his big break by being in four pivotal scenes in his brother Vince’s (Adrian Grenier) directorial debut, Hyde. But problems arise when (A) a Texas financier of the film (Haley Joel Osment) wants Drama cut out of the movie and (B) a sex tape featuring Drama masturbating into a camera is leaked onto the internet. Yep, Entourage is back. (There was a subplot in which Drama was never in Hyde and, instead, auditions for Magic Mike 2 — Dillon explains why all this was changed and how whining to your director can actually pay off.)
When you speak to Dillon, it’s hard to get over just how genuinely nice he is. And not in some fake way that can get you through an interview, which I’ve become at least fairly OK at spotting. (After this interview, I found myself telling friends, “Kevin Dillon is really nice,” to which they’d reply with some form of, “How is that surprising?”) Dillon just seems like an actor who knows he struck gold with a popular character and is enjoying it as much as he can … even though, yeah, if you happen to approach him on the street, he wouldn’t mind talking about The Doors instead, at least every now and then.
You no longer have to answer, “When is the Entourage movie coming out?” You’ve been asked that a lot.
A million times, yeah… They were driving me crazy. I wanted it to happen — we all wanted it to happen — but we were waiting on the script. We were waiting for Doug to write it and it was really Mark Wahlberg who cracked the whip on Doug and said, “Hey, come on, let’s get this done.”
A lot of actors in your position might not want to play a popular character again after the series ends.
You know what, it’s a career character. I love the guy. I love all the intricacies, you know? He’s so flawed, yet he’s got such a big heart and I love all that about him. But I do understand where other actors are coming from. You almost have to let time pass before people can accept you as something else – and just as the time is about to pass, you play that character again and you’re starting over again. You’re starting over from scratch. But, it’s well worth it in this case; any actor would love to play a character who’s got so much depth, you know?
I’m not sure anyone does a better “realization face” on a consistent basis than you do — the moment Drama finally realizes what just happened.
[Laughs] Yeah, yeah, I know – the moment, that’s an important thing for me. I want you to see me think and have it dawn on me.
And the audience kind of loves him for that, but has there ever been a time when you thought something Drama did went too far? That he’d lose the audience?
There was. I don’t remember what season it was, I think it was season four? My character was really mean to Turtle. Doug Ellin was like, “No, you can do anything and they’re going to love you anyway.” I was like, “No, he can’t, not if he keeps treating him really badly. Believe me.” And, of course, the message boards lit up, “Drama’s being a real jerk. Why is he treating Turtle so poorly?” So, Doug kind of redeemed him the next year, but I was really worried about losing the audience. I thought it went too far. And Doug and I kind of bickered about that a little bit and I was right about that. You can go too far. So, we always kind of straddle that line of, we want to bust each other’s chops as much as possible, but not to the point where it’s cruel or mean.
He does dumb things, but his heart is usually in the right place.
And that’s the one thing that’s great about him, he’s got a big heart. So, no matter what he does, he didn’t mean to do it and you can forgive him.
When you start filming the movie, does it feel like another episode?
To be honest with you, I think it took maybe two takes and I felt like we were back in the flow again. We were doing a walk and talk on a big yacht with no cuts, so the camera is following us down the steps of this yacht. And we all have that snappy dialogue. Two takes in, I felt like we were nailing it again. Like, we just had been doing it all along and we’d never stopped.
Did it feel different in any way? Was it better craft services?
Well, maybe the craft service was a little bit bigger.
I’m sure a lot of people assume Johnny and Vince’s relationship based on you and your brother, Matt, as opposed to coming from Mark Wahlberg…
Well, the crazy thing is, it’s really not his either. Maybe the pilot? But that was it. It was taken from the experiences of Doug Ellin and people he knows in the business. And sometimes we’ll tell Doug storylines or something that happened to a friend of ours and he’ll write it in. So, funny things happen that way, but it really isn’t based on Mark’s buddies. I mean, it is based on it, but only the pilot, I’d say.
But do you get annoyed when people assume it’s about you and your brother? You’re the younger brother.
Nah, I never get annoyed. I think the similarities kind of blur the lines, which makes it cool. He is my brother and he is an actor – and all these things, the cameos, do make it all seem a little more real. And maybe that little fact makes it feel even a little bit more real, too, which helps. But, it’s not at all. At one stage, we thought about trying to get Matt on the show somehow.
Did you talk to Matt about it?
Well, it’s tough, because Drama and Vince are half-brothers. Matt would have to be a half brother from the other half.
People would have loved that.
Yeah! Or, I had an idea. This is the best idea, but it didn’t happen. It was going to be Drama is a stunt double for Matt when Matt’s doing a movie – I’d have to go do stunts. I always thought that would have been so cool. That would have been great.
Is there a line that separates playing a popular character, and maybe it’s not always great when people are yelling “Victory” at you on the street? Do you ever say, “Look, I was in Platoon?”
Yeah, you know, every once in awhile someone will be like, “Hey, you were great in The Doors,” or something — and it’s good to hear! But, for the most part, it’s “Victory” down the street. It’s alright.
Do you like that?
Hey, you know what? It’s all a compliment, so nothing bothers me. I was called Matt Dillon’s kid brother for a long time, but that didn’t bother me either.
For anyone who reads this, I hope the takeaway is that if they run into you on the street, they should ask about The Doors.
Yeah, I could talk about The Doors, Platoon, The Blob. I’m cool with anything.
People like The Blob now.
Yeah! It’s kind of become a cult film. Another cult film, Heaven Help Us, that didn’t make a lot of money when it came up, but it became a real cult classic.
I remember seeing The Doors in a theater. I took no substances before it started, but by the end felt like I was on something.
You felt like you were tripping, right? There were all of these great crane shots that Oliver Stone did. And looking at us, we looked high – we wore contacts that made our pupils look dilated. So you look at us and it looks like we’re wasted. And Val Kilmer was just unbelievable in that movie.
There was a subplot in an early Entourage script about Drama trying to audition for Magic Mike 2.
Yeah! How did you know that?
I’m familiar with an early script.
Do you know what happened?
Tatum couldn’t do it. So Doug had to switch things up, so basically my storyline got kind of really cut down. So, I went from having a nice storyline, to it being pretty much chopped in half.
Yeah, there was supposed to be a cameo from Channing Tatum at the end of the movie.
Yeah! Exactly! And then when they cut that out, I basically didn’t have a storyline in the movie. And I went out to dinner with Doug Ellin, we were at Giorgio’s, and the way the movie is now, he put that in after Tatum pulled out – and then they pulled that out! Then I was like, “I don’t have anything to do in this movie! I’m the tagalong!” I basically cried to Doug Ellin – well, not really, I didn’t really cry, but I did whine a little bit – and he put the storyline back in! And that’s the one you see today.
There’s a real Aquaman movie coming out now.
You know what? We were trying to think of something that was just impossible to do. Like, only James Cameron could do something like that. But I think it’s cool. Nowadays, with all these special effects and stuff, you can probably pull that off. It would have been tough back in the day.
You guys wanted to beat Spider-Man’s opening, which now seems like a quaint goal.
It’s just funny it was Aquaman, because Aquaman was never going to get his own movie. But here we are.
It’s crazy. We are always ahead of the curve a little bit. And I don’t know how Doug does it. But even with the cameos we got at this party scene: Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman. And then he had all the guys from Seattle — Russell Wilson. That was a year before the Super Bowl and then all these guys end up in the Super Bowl. It’s just pure luck. Ronda Rousey, I mean, people kind of knew who she was a little bit. I didn’t, until I got the script. And now everyone knows who she is and she’s on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York. He is senior entertainment writer at UPROXX. You can contact him directly on Twitter.