Entourage star Kevin Dillon speaks to Loaded

The man behind Johnny Drama on why he prefers oil painting to Entourage-esque partying.

Kevin Dillon is philosophical about his career
No drama Kevin Dillon would rather unwind in Malibu than fret about movie success or chase Hollywood excess. Image Shoot Richard Gosling

Kevin Dillon is on the phone from his secluded beachside home in Malibu, enjoying some time out following the somewhat disappointing whirlwind that was Entourage The Movie. 

He’s far more laid back than his much adored alter-ego Johnny Drama and feeling philosophical about the fact that the long-awaited film adaptation of the hit HBO series didn’t exactly set cinemas on fire earlier this year.

For Dillon, it was all a matter of timing and as far as he’s concerned, the studio got it wrong.

“They released it in the summer and wanted to make it a summer release and that means that you are going up against all of these blockbuster movies,” he sighs.

“It’s tough to compete with Jurassic Park and San Andreas and Mad Max, those are big action movies and it’s tough to get out there and compete with them.”

The Doug Ellin directed comedy-drama, which saw saw Dillon reunite with Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Gerrara and Jeremy Piven, grossed 44 million this summer. But Dillon reckons it could have been a whole lot more.

“I knew we were going to struggle this time and I did think ‘why not bring it out when there’s a whole in the market?’, ‘why are you going up against these guys?’” he says.

“We could have went up with some lower rent movies and maybe dominate them.

“That’s the way I think they should have done it, but what’s done is done.”

Still, despite studio mess-ups with release dates, Kevin relished the opportunity to reunite with the cast and producer and creator Mark Wahlberg for filming. And life imitated art on more than one occasion when the cast were together.

Kevin says: “We did have some partying down in Miami and that was good fun. People do a double take and wonder if we are real or are in a TV show. It always has to be strange for people to see us walk into a restaurant together and wonder what the hell is going on when there are no cameras around.”

For now, he doesn’t know what the future holds for Vince Chase, Johnny and the boys but tells Loaded that the cast did originally sign up for two films.

“There was a lot of talk about a second movie, the deals were in place when we did this one,” he says.

“I think the movie did OK, but it didn’t kill it and it didn’t make it so big that we could go ‘oh, we have got to do another’.

“It didn’t make that kind of money and I’ve heard nothing about going back to TV and I’m not sure if they would want me anyway.”

Kevin Dillon gave up partying years ago

Family man

Drama was described as a balding, unemployable idiot in series one of Entourage and things didn’t get much better for the character.

The show has seen him struggle with his anger management during auditions, have mishaps shaving his balls, get an erection during a brother-sister scene with Brooke Shields and end up taking a job as the voice of a cartoon gorilla called Johnny Bananas. Drama dressed as a pink rabbit to have sex and meditated using the mantra “I am not a pussy” to stop panic attacks. In one episode he admitted he cried himself to sleep “when Roger Ebert singled out my performance in Licensed To Drive as the end of the golden age of cinema”.

Entourage is based on producer Mark Wahlberg’s early days in LA, with each episode packed with drugs, booze, women and actors behaving like dickheads.

In exchange for being ridiculed in each episode, Drama gets crumbs from his brother Vince’s table in the form of free booze, invites to pool parties and premieres and plastic-chested bimbos.

Dillon has previously said “some really weird shit goes down” when celebrities get together to party privately to avoid being snapped in public by galleys of fans armed with camera phones.

Yet Dillon isn’t full of sex, drugs and decadence tales.

The furthest he goes when talking about what the Entourage cast got up to filming the movie is, “We did some partying down in Miami and that was good fun. People do a double-take and wonder if we are real or are in a TV show. It always has to be strange for people to see us walk into a restaurant together and wonder what the hell is going on when there are no cameras around.”

Kevin Dillon as Private Bunny in Platoon
Walk on the wild side Dillon’s big break in Platoon with tortured Charlie Sheen. Image Picture Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

Dillon’s lack of crazed partying anecdotes is understandable – he turned 50 in August and lives a quiet existence with actress wife Jane Stuart and their nine-year-old daughter Ava.

“I just hang out here in Malibu quite a lot,” he said about life as a supermarket-shopping family man. “It’s very easy for me to do, because I don’t want to be in the spotlight. That’s pretty possible here. You’re still running around avoiding the paparazzi and having to sneak around a bit, but if I go to the supermarket, the paparazzi aren’t necessarily there for me. They’re there to find a celebrity, and if I come out the door, they’re going to come after me as I’m all they have.”

While Dillon’s partying doesn’t imitate the lifestyle in Entourage there is one element to which he strongly relates.

Dillon has worked in Hollywood since 1983 and seen careers soar and plummet. And like Johnny Drama, he’s struggled.

He had an explosive career kickstart playing fresh-faced psycho Private Bunny in 1986’s Platoon aged 21. Dillon got the part after he showed director Oliver Stone how to bite through a can of beer, which later made one of the film’s party scenes.

Dillon then fought for years for a place in the mainstream before he was reunited with Stone to play drummer John Densmore in 1991’s The Doors biopic.

“For people like Vince Chase, everything he touches is gold, just like Mark Wahlberg. Some have got it good in Hollywood. Others have to work harder”

He got the role after lying to Stone that he was a brilliant drummer (he wasn’t) – a move that carries the familiar whiff of Johnny Drama’s faked acting CV that claims he is a skilled deep-sea diver.

“For some people Hollywood is like that,” Dillon said about his career arc. “But then for people like Vince, everything he touches is gold, just like Mark Wahlberg. Some have got it good like him and others have to work harder. Not that Mark doesn’t work hard. He works super hard. It just goes easier for some than others.”

It’s amazing Dillon hasn’t gone off the rails. He rubbed shoulders with an Eighties bratpack that included his Platoon co-star Charlie Sheen as well as Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin’s brother Matt. 

He said the cast – including co-stars Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara and Jeremy Piven – have signed up for two Entourage films, and added, “There was a lot of talk about a second movie and the deals were in place when we did this one.”

Kevin Dillon is resigned to playing second fiddle in the acting world
Image Picture Warner Bros/Everett/REX Shutterstock

Going back to the disappointing cash return on the Entourage film, Dillon said, “I think the movie did OK, but it didn’t kill it. It didn’t make it so big that we could go, ‘Oh, we have got to do another’. It didn’t make that kind of money and I’ve heard nothing about going back to TV.”

With a modesty he attributes to his family’s Irish roots Dillon added, “I’m not sure if they would want me anyway.” It’s doubtful Entourage creator Doug Ellin wouldn’t have him back.

Playing Drama has seen Dillon nominated for three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe – something replicated in Entourage when Drama picked up a Globe.

“Johnny Drama might be a little bit annoying now that he has won a Golden Globe,” Dillon laughed. “I would guess Doug Ellin would have something up his sleeve to bring Johnny crashing back down to earth again. Johnny is self-destructive – he will explode and blow it all. As fun as it was to see Johnny succeed and have a great moment, we love to watch him struggle. I’m guessing that if there was a second movie, you would see the struggles of Johnny back again.”

If movies don’t whet Dillon’s appetite for the rest of his days he always has his art.

Dillon says he’s been dabbling in painting for years – but in that arena too he’s in the shadow of his family. His great-uncle Alex Raymond created the character Flash Gordon, and his grandfather was the inspiration for the ‘Saviour of the Universe’.

“My grandfather played basketball for Georgetown University,” Dillon said. “He was 6ft 4 and a handsome guy. My uncle said he wanted to draw him as a model. He did, and that’s where Flash Gordon came from.

“I’ve got some of the stuff right here with me in the house right now. Some of the comics are framed and on the walls and things like that. I’m into art and my dad is a portrait painter. My older brother Paul is really good and I’m not too shabby myself.

“I’ve got lots of oil paintings here, so I guess it does run in the family a little.”

Entourage The Movie is available now on download, Blu-ray and DVD.

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Loaded’s entertainment editor Jennifer O’Brien is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about popular culture as a national newspaper columnist and author. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_OBrien1

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