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Jeremy Piven is one heck of an actor. He makes Entourage everything that it is, and then the brashness that he wears like a second skin is nonexistent in the delightful British series Mr. Selfridge, on PBS' Masterpiece Classic.
But put aside the three Emmy wins for playing Ari Gold and you're still left with Piven's mixed bag of a reputation. The 49-year-old thesp comes off pretty well and no more cocky than most in interviews, but he's also the guy who raised a lot of eyebrows when he blamed too much sushi for the mercury poisoning that led to him bowing out of Speed-the-Plow on Broadway and, legend has it, he's quite the...er, flirt, with the ladies.
(But to be fair, after that whole sushi fiasco, he totally went the self-deprecation route, acknowledging that mercury poisoning sounded like "a rich man's disease...like something you might get from the leather seats in your Lamborghini, like a rash.")
So...what is Piven like, really?
"So let me ask you, flat out, are you a jerk?" Tracy Smith inquires of him in an interview airing this weekend on CBS Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood.
And you can just feel the wheels spinning! (And we can't wait to see the look on his face when Smith asks him the jerk question point-blank on Sunday!)
"You know, that's interesting," Piven replies, "because if I said yes I would get more compassion than saying no."
So what is he saying, then?
"I've had some moments where, you know, you have to check yourself and go, ‘Just calm down,'" Piven explains. "I think I'm doing things for the right reason, but the reality is you may be passionate and it may come out the wrong way."
Smith then basically asks if that means he's a reformed jerk who has left his jerk days behind him.
"I think that if you work your entire life to be good at something and then you play the poster child for jerks, but you put everything you have into them—there might be some misconceptions, you know," he concluded.
Nothing that a Best Supporting Oscar nomination for stealing every one of his scenes in the Entourage movie, in theaters June 5, can't fix, right?