They are the Odd Couple of modern TV — Ari (Jeremy Piven), Hollywood’s power-hungry, egomaniac talent agent, and Lloyd (Rex Lee), his subservient assistant. Both are back for Season 4 of HBO’s Entourage, along with the rest of the boys. When we caught up with Rex Lee, he wasn’t budging when it came to disclosing storylines, but we did find out the following:
Ari and Lloyd’s relationship deepens.
OK, you ask, so what does that mean? “What I’m willing to say to you [is] their relationship deepens and becomes richer — I’m not going to tell you how,” Lee says. “But it’s good.”
Ari wasn’t lying when in Season 3 he told Lloyd it would be another 24 months before he’s an agent.
“It hasn’t happened yet,” Lee said, noting that they’re halfway through shooting the fourth season.
There’s really nothing Lloyd wouldn’t do for Ari.
“I don’t think that there is. I really feel that if Ari [in ‘Dog Day Afternoon,’ Episode 36] hadn’t come to save Lloyd (although he had to get liquored up to do it) that Lloyd was really going to go through with it all.”
Being on the receiving end of Piven’s spontaneous improv is a good thing.
“I like the idea that I can be in the middle of a scene and not know what the other actor is going to say or do. It’s exhilarating more than it’s frightening … I like to play. I think that’s one of the things that Jeremy and I like about each other — if he chooses to go off the script, more often than not I go with him.”
The actors are looking for more improv to make it to the screen.
“I’m not saying there’s a battle going on behind the scenes. I think that some of the actors including Jeremy and myself, who occasionally improvise, would like to see more of that on the screen, and it will be interesting to see if that happens or not.”
Some improv has made it on screen, take for example Season 3.
“The episode ‘Dog Day Afternoon,’ I think when Ari entered the gay nightclub and he goes across the dance floor looking for Lloyd I don’t think any of that was scripted, so he just went to town.”
Not all improv, is good improv.
“Not everything that comes out of Jeremy’s mouth is funny or makes sense for the moment. It depends. …Depending on the situation, sometimes when you’re done and they call cut, sometimes the director will come out and says ‘Wow, that was funny. That was really great that you were inspired to do something else’ but sometimes they’ll come back and say, ‘yeah, that was funny but let’s do what was written.’ So, you never know how it’s going to be received. The truth is the majority of what you see on screen is scripted. More often than not, the producers and directors want to see what is in the script. Sometimes what’s in the script, it’s tighter and that’s what they prefer.
Oddly, Lee’s real-life agents don’t address the show’s topic.
The funny thing is, when I meet agents and agent assistants that don’t work for the company that represents me, I think we talk about the show a lot and whether or not it’s realistic, whether or not it’s funny if you’re not in the business or funny if you are in the business. But, for some reason, I will say that with my agents they don’t really talk about the plot so much as they talk about the work. They’ll say ‘you were really funny in that episode,’ but they never really talk about what type of agent Ari is as opposed to what kind of agent they are. Probably not off limits but we just haven’t really talked about it.
Lee had five years of experience for his role as Lloyd as an assistant to a casting director.
“I did about five years of research without knowing I was doing it. When I was a struggling actor it was a great job to have; [the] hours where flexible when I needed it to be, the pay was enough to pay the bills. I was technically in the industry with my non-acting jobs. I like actors and I’ve dealt with actors a lot. To a certain extent I learned a little bit about acting from being in casting.”
Lee really does like Lloyd’s wardrobe.
“I definitely like bright colors. Every day that I go into my trailer and there’s a new wardrobe change, I’m like ‘Wow, this is so great. I would totally wear that.’ I would say that the costume designers are a little more adventurous than I am.”
As with any star, odd fan experiences are expected.
“Yes. [long pause] Well, I’ve never talked about this … I went to an event where there was just random table assignments. [The couple next to my table] were huge fans of the show, and of me.” Rex proceeded to mingle around at the event and when he came back to the table, “they were gone, [but also were] every single ounce of paper that I’d brought into the event with me. Some of it was silly, like my menu of the event and some of it was stuff I needed, like my valet ticket. I just felt strange about it.”