Ari Gold had his "Entourage" and so does Harry Gordon Selfridge -- both played by three-time Emmy-winning actor Jeremy Piven -- when the second season of "Mr. Selfridge," the story about London's retail king, premieres on Sunday night.
As Season 2 begins, Selfridges is having a bit of financial trouble, but not near as much difficulty as Harry is experiencing in his personal life. His excesses in the previous season have left wife Rose (Frances O'Connor) estranged, and while she is visiting London, she is nowhere near ready to forgive Harry for the bit of fluff he kept on the side.
Created by Emmy® Award-winning writer Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice), "Mr. Selfridge, Season 2 costars Aisling Loftus, Amanda Abbington and Ron Cook.
Examiner.com caught up with Piven for a 1:1 interview to get his take on Season 2 of "Mr. Selfridge," the "Entourage" movie and more.
Where do we pick up in Season 2 of "Mr. Selfridge"?
It's five years on. The first world war is looming. I think part of the showmanship of Harry is kind of beaten out of him because they're celebrating five years of success at Selfridge's and it's a hollow victory for him. Because of his ways, he's lost his wife. She's there, but she's not fully there for him. His life isn't complete. In the first season, he would be kind of a slave to his demons and he's a risk junkie. He loves to gamble and he fell in love with the stage showgirl of the time -- Ellen Love. Because of his ways, he lost his wife and now he's doing everything he can to get her back.
Any additions to the cast?
There are a lot of really great story lines to share. We have some new characters, a new head of the fashion department, who is an incredible force nature who is up to no good, as well as Lady Loxley's (Katherine Kelly) husband (Aidan McArdle) appears from his hiding place. He's one of the juiciest and funniest baddies I've ever seen in my life, so we're in for a treat.
The store is more established now. He's up and running but what's fascinating ... one of the reasons I love doing series is you get to continually explore a character and to get to things that you wouldn't have in a movie. Just ask Bryan Cranston. You know what it was like to do all those seasons on "Breaking Bad."
Well, you had Ari.
I did. I did. That's my point. That's what this is becoming for me. I think it's what's most interesting and the best role I've ever had a chance to play. I think change is hard for people. I think I was in people's living rooms for eight years as Ari Gold, but I left that behind and I've been embracing Harry now for going on, I'm about to start my third season. The evolution of him has been really fun to play. This season, he's had the showmanship kind of knocked out of him because he does really wants to get his wife back. We open on him celebrating five years and it's a hollow victory for him.
Talk about the difference in working in the UK and working in the US.
You'd be surprised how similar it is. I think over there, their budgets aren't quite the same but I think the result of that is ingenuity. They're trying to figure out ways to make it look incredible. They're artists working on their highest level to me.
What is it about Harry that you can relate to?
I definitely can relate to the fact that he's a guy who at the turn of the century went over to London to conquer it and to do something that hadn't been done. Now, I'm an American actor going and doing a lead in a British series and I can't tell you the last time an American actor was the lead in a British television series. There are certain definite similarities. Sometimes you don't have to look too far for inspiration. It's kind of all in front of you.
You started filming "Entourage." What it's like to be reunited with the guys?
You had mentioned earlier you sort of left Ari behind you.
Was it hard to find him again?
I think part of the result of working eight seasons on a show and being in people's living room is that they grow accustomed to you in a certain way. It's your job to play that character as fully as possible and make him authentic and life-like. I think once you do that and put the work in, going back is always interesting. When you put that type of time into something, you can go back and find it again. I definitely did leave him behind. I was embracing Harry because you never get ahead of yourself and go, "We're going to do the movie." You take it as it comes. That's the life of an actor to be voluntarily schizophrenic. I'll go right from Ari to Harry and it will be fun.
Can you tease a little bit about what we're going to see in the movie?
The last time we saw Ari, he was trying to decide whether or not he's going to take the studio head job and become god as it was offered up to him. We're going to pick up where we left off with him.
"Mr. Selfridge" premieres its second season on Sunday, March 30 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.