He's come a long way from playing Vinny Chase: Adrian Grenier steps out this week as executive producer of the documentary "How to Make Money Selling Drugs."
Best known for his eight-season portrayal of an often superficial and flighty star on the rise in HBO's "Entourage," Grenier is nowadays more interested in passion projects like this one. "How to Make Money" outlines the ins and outs of buying and selling recreational drugs, using a video game framing device that explains how to beat bosses (avoid cops) and level up (go from small-time dealer to kingpin).
The doc premiered at New York's Tribeca Film Festival to positive reviews, many of which cited its candid take on the tough issue of the drug war and the day-to-day reality of selling and using street drugs. Grenier, who avoids referring to himself as an activist, chatted with NextMovie prior to the movie's June 26 release in limited theaters (available now on VOD). Read on for his overwhelmingly positive thoughts on Ryan Gosling, urban homesteading and the "Entourage" movie. (Yep, that's still a thing.)
It seems like in the past several months, you've become kind of an activist against the drug war and mandatory minimums. What got you involved?
I wouldn't say that I'm an activist for anything. I'm really just, you know, I'm excited to talk about some real stuff, and try and see reason. I mean, there's some really silly policies that, you know, we take for granted, and so this is a film ... I think it really spoke to a larger audience. It WASN'T an activist movie, which is why I liked it. Because it's not preachy, it really speaks the language of the pop psyche, and so, you know, it's a movie I think actually is gonna get some traction because it doesn't talk down to people; it just has real talk. It's real.
Right, it's presented in an interesting way — framed like a guide on how to beat a video game — and you're not being preached at.
Yeah, because life is full of tragedy and injustice, but also can be fun, and drugs are glorified in mainstream media and film and video games, you know? And so we're simply just speaking that language out of the way to talk to the people who speak that language, which is all of us.
OK, so the title of the movie is "How to Make Money Selling Drugs." How do you make money selling drugs?
[Laughs] It's easy. You just find your local street hustler, and I'm sure he's looking to recruit because people are dropping off like flies, either being killed or incarcerated. So there's plenty of openings available.
You're obviously most known for "Entourage," which ended in 2011. Since then, it seems like you've mostly been pursuing passion projects and production, like this film.
Yeah, I've been doing a lot of stuff independently, basically just waiting for the call to get back into Vince's outfit.
Is that gonna happen? Are we actually going to see an "Entourage" movie?
The likelihood is very good, yes. It's looking very good.
Are you still in touch with everyone? Kevin Connolly also had a documentary, "Big Shot," premiere at Tribeca, where you debuted "How to Make Money." Are you guys still in touch?
Yeah, I haven't spoken to him in a while, but I'm really excited about it, and I know he just wrapped shooting a film as well, which is cool.
You could start an "Entourage" documentary collective.
I know, seriously. And Jerry [Ferrara], Jerry has "A Band Called Death."
Do you enjoy being behind or in front of camera more?
They both have their pros and cons. I don't think I'll ever give up acting, I really do enjoy it. It's a nice ... it's just a different pace. Its a little calmer, a little bit more introspective. Producing, directing is run-and-gun, a lot of constant mental exercises. And acting's more of an emotional exercise.
Your most recent acting credit is in "Goodbye World," which just premiered at the LA Film Festival, and this one premiered at Tribeca. If you had your own festival, what would it be called and where would it be?
If I had a festival, it would be called Reckless Film Festival, and umm ... it would be in Brooklyn, and it would be truly, truly indie. Like all of those crazy filmmakers out there that take all the risks and hustle to get their films made.
Where would you hold it? In some warehouse?
You know, I like the random warehouse idea, but there's nothing like a nice comfy theater with good sound.
What's the best movie that you've seen lately?
Besides "How to Make Money Selling Drugs"? Umm, I saw "The Place Beyond the Pines."
You're a big Ryan Gosling fan?
Who isn't? Come on, he's so dreamy.
I'm actually a big fan of Gosling memes, I think they're awesome. I think my favorite one that I most recently saw was, "Hey Girl, maybe it's time for us to get some chickens. I'll look at coop design right after we snuggle."
You and Ryan Gosling are going to get into urban homesteading together?
Totally. I gotta get him into SHFT.
You could compare your rugged facial hair.
Yeah, and we can peruse Etsy together.
In "Entourage," your character played Aquaman. If you were going to play a superhero in real life, which would you most like to play?
I mean, I'll take Aquaman, because I think that's the only one left.
You could make up your own.
I could, I could. Maybe some superhero that fights against the war on drugs.
What movie of yours do you think deserves a second look from people?
I don't know, "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" has always been a cult classic. I think it should probably get re-released or something. I don't think it had its due at the time, and sort of, you know, grew a following over time, so maybe now people would go check it out in theaters.
Did it get an unfair rap from critics, or was it just underseen?
Who knows what was happening that overshadowed it? Releases are about timing as much as anything else. And it could've been a beautiful day that day, and everyone went to the beach instead, who knows?
Do you ever Google yourself?
Duh! [laughs] Don't you?
I do. What's the craziest thing you've seen about yourself, true or untrue?
There's always a grain of truth in everything.
You're like a fortune cookie.
I don't know, there's some funny things ... that I speak, like, five languages or something.
How many do you speak?
Barely one. I speak ... I have an atrocious mastery of Spanish, and I play music. That's kind of a language.
When people see you on the street, what do they say to you?
There's a few things. It's either, "Hey Vince!" or "Where's Turtle at?" or "That guy from that show" or "It's Adrien Brody!"
Using the formula of your first pet and the street you grew up on, what would your porn name be?
Babba Delwood. Actually, Tyrone was my first real cat. So I'll go with Tyrone Delwood.