​For Jeremy Piven, it's just a matter of time


The Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning "Entourage" star is waiting for word of mouth to propel his latest series, "Mr. Selfridge," to hit status.

CBS News

What's next in store for actor Jeremy Piven? How about a role as a department store magnate? Piven talks about that and more with Tracy Smith:

Selfridge: "I want Treasure Island in here. I want Aladdin's cave!"

In 1909, American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge opened a big department store in London, there were a few skeptics.

Lady Mae: "People like us aren't used to going 'shopping.' It's not considered smart. A gentleman will visit his tailor, a lady will send for her dressmaker, and so on."
Selfridge: "We are going to have to change the fashion!"
Jeremy Piven in "Mr. Selfridge." PBS

And boy, did he ever: Selfridge's, the store, was a runaway success. And now, so is "Mr. Selfridge," the PBS "Masterpiece" series starring Jeremy Piven in the title role. It's a huge hit in the U.K., but has yet to be as huge in the U.S.

Smith asked Piven why he thinks that is.

"Do you want the truth," he said, "or I could give you the -- "

"I'd like the truth. Thanks for asking my preference!"

"The truth of the matter is that PBS has the best pedigree of shows on the air. And the reality is we took a different playing field."

"The marketing isn't there that is there for other shows."

"There isn't any! And it's an interesting cultural experiment: How long does it take a show to break with word of mouth?"

Actor Jeremy Piven with correspondent Tracy Smith in New York City. CBS News

Of course, he's never been the kind of guy to wait for things to happen.

Jeremy Samuel Piven was actually born to a life on the stage. His parents ran a Chicago-area drama school, so of course he tried his hand at ... football.

"I thought I was a unique football player, but I was viciously mediocre and undersized," he said. "That's a bad combo, let's be honest."

But on stage, and later on camera, he was a big league player.

In a 30-year career, Jeremy Piven has turned supporting roles into the characters you can't forget: the loyal friend (in "Serendipity"), the arch-nemesis ("Old School"), or the guy who always seems ready to explode ("Grosse Point Blank").

And in HBO's "Entourage," Piven was a force of nature. As super-agent Ari Gold, he blustered his way to three Emmys and a legion of fans, though some still sometimes have trouble separating the arrogant jerk onscreen from the actor who created him.

So, Smith said, "Let me ask you flat out: Are you a jerk?"

"If I said yes, I would get more compassion than saying no. Think about that!"

"You're right. And I think it's interesting that you've weighed that answer."

"I've had some moments where you have to check yourself and go, 'Just calm down,'" said Piven. "You know, I think I'm doing things for the right reason, but the reality is you may be passionate and it may come out in the wrong way."

"So did you used to be a jerk?"

"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 replied.

He's had his share of those: in 2008 Piven was vilified for quitting a Broadway run of David Mamet's "Speed the Plow." He said a steady diet of fish had left him with acute mercury poisoning.

So, all the fish, he said, "and also if you add on top of that that I didn't take any breaks for two decades, you will drop. And that's what happened."

These days, Piven watches what he eats, at home and at favorite places like New York's Chalk Point Kitchen.

No fish any more? "No fish whatsoever!" he said.

His health is much improved, but he still hasn't got Ari Gold out of his system; the much-awaited "Entourage" movie opens in June.

To watch a trailer for "Entourage" click on the video player below.

Piven, who's never been married, says he owes his success in large part to his drama-teacher parents. He still runs lines with his mom. And he's even appeared on screen with his dad, actor/director Byrne Piven, who passed away in 2002.

"You raised your Emmy statue to him a couple of times actually," said Smith. "Is it maddening not to have him see what you're doing now?"