Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Piven: Working in UK 'an honour'

Jeremy PIven spent time in the UK as a drama student

Jeremy Piven has revealed that he longed to return to work in the UK after a spell in the country when he was a drama student.

The Entourage actor takes the lead role in new ITV period drama Mr Selfridge, and said he relished the chance to come back after his time as an exchange student.

"I've been such a fan of the UK and their arts for a really long time so it's kind of an honour," said the actor, who studied at the National Theatre in his younger days and recalled: "I got the chance to see plays every night, including Dame Judi Dench and Sir Anthony Hopkins on stage."

The brilliant ensemble cast also drew him to the drama, in which he plays department store pioneer Harry Selfridge.

His castmates include former Coronation Street actress Katherine Kelly as the alluring and obscenely rich Lady Mae, whose connections prove vital as Selfridge builds his empire.

"Those who only know her as Coronation Street's Becky won't be able to recognise her in this at the opposite end of the spectrum. She's a genius," said Jeremy. "I loved working with her because Selfridge bounds through these scenes with such confidence but then with her, he doesn't know what to do with himself."

Jeremy said his new role was very different from Ari Gold, the neurotic movie agent he played in Hollywood drama Entourage.

"This character I played for eight years ruled with an iron fist through intimidation," he said of the acerbic Ari. "But the thing with Harry Selfridge is that he's very warm and has a special connection with all his employees.

"He's also very good on the nervous system as opposed to Ari who's always yelling and breaking and smashing things."

:: Mr Selfridge begins on ITV1 on Sunday, January 6.

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