September 16th, 2011
12:35 PM ET
Believe it or not, actor Jerry Ferrara doesn’t have much in common with his television alter ego, “Entourage’s” Turtle.
Having gone from a Boston Market employee in 2004 to one of HBO's most popular shows, Ferrara made a name for himself as the loyal, overweight, pot-smoking, freeloading best friend of the show’s protagonist, Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier). Fast forward to 2011 and the actor's just wrapped portraying a more fit and serious Turtle, not to mention he's walking away from "Entourage" having written a few episodes of the show.
But sans potential of a movie, what if we have seen the last of Turtle? If so, how does the guy who spent a good part of his adulthood playing the character prove he can grow beyond the show that gave him his first real break?
Ferrara spoke with CNN about the differences between Turtle and himself, the status of the “Entourage” movie and what he’ll do to show he’s more than a one-series wonder.
CNN: "Entourage" has officially wrapped, and I’ve read you had to take a “man walk” after you finished the last scene. Care to elaborate?
Ferrara: I knew there was a chance that it was going to be a very emotional thing. Sure enough, when they called the series wrap it really kind of hit me. I don’t know, the "man walk" wasn’t like a sobbing cry or hysterics. I basically walked away and I just looked back a few yards and looked at everybody – the 150 people there – and I literally locked that moment in. There was a tear or two, so that’s what the man walk was all about.
CNN: And I’m guessing on that man walk you thought back to being 22 and working at Boston Market before all of this happened. What was Boston Market Jerry like?
Ferrara: It was a very typical case of a young, up and coming actor who just had to pay bills. I didn’t have a car when I first moved to L.A., so Boston Market was the closest place to my apartment at the time [laughs]. It was a really cool job, I have to say. It showed me right from the bat that if you’re going to make your way you’re going to have to earn it, every inch, and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
CNN: You started the show at 22, and now you’re 31. What similarities do you see in Turtle’s growth as a character and your own growing into manhood?
Ferrara: The character has evolved so much, I feel like right now we’re similar in [the] sense that he was really trying to make something of himself. I guess you could say in real life I’m ahead of where he is maybe professionally, but I think we’re equal on our drive at the moment. I know guys who are this character. I’m very similar in the sense that I came from a blue-collar background. I’m very loyal to my friends. He’s kind of like a relatable guy – he’s every guy. Everyone knows a Turtle!
CNN: Turtle didn’t have great luck with women. He lost Lauren London, he lost Jamie-Lynn Sigler, he lost Dania Ramirez. Who was the hardest woman for Turtle to lose?
Ferrara: The Lauren London thing kind of never really had an ending. That storyline came late in the season, and when the show picked back up the following year too much time had gone by to really figure out where these two characters were in their relationship. Jamie’s character and Dania’s character – they both ended in such different ways. With Dania’s character, Alex, it maybe would have been a little bit harder because he lost a girl and he also kind of lost his place in the business. That’s kind of a double-banger, so that might’ve been a little bit harder.
CNN: Yeah, and I’m assuming you don’t smoke as many joints as he does…
Ferrara: Ah…no. I guess I play a pothead really well, but I’m not a pothead.
CNN: How will you break away from being typecast in that particular role?
Ferrara: If people think that’s the only thing I can do, I look at that as a great challenge. Twenty years ago maybe it would have been a much bigger problem, because if you’re a television actor, you don’t do movies and if you’re a movie star, you don’t do television. If you look at the world right now and the state of affairs with the business, you have people who’ve never done television starring in TV shows. So, am I concerned? No. Has it crossed my mind? Of course – I’m human. It’s not a reality show, I didn’t just walk in and was the ‘the guy,’ so I’m excited to see people’s reactions. We’ll see what happens.
CNN: Speaking of other people and their reactions, why do you think there’s been so much attention on your weight loss?
Ferrara: Some of the reactions I’ve heard have been really positive, and some have been, "You know, you’re different than the character now. You’re not the same character." I wasn’t really trying to change the character, or change anything other than the fact that I was just really unhealthy. Pretty much when I neared 30, I just said, "I need to be active." I played every sport when I was a kid and I just wasn’t doing any of that stuff anymore. I didn’t go on any kind of crazy diet, I just started eating well and exercising a lot and it became a habit. I’m kind of obsessive like that - I just got addicted to something good finally. As far as the attention, I guess I just refuse to believe that anyone really gives me any kind of real attention. It is kind of crazy to lose 50 pounds, and [see that] it’s a story.
CNN: You wrote a couple episodes of “Entourage.” What excites you most about the future of your career and what else you might do?
Ferrara: I’ve been writing for a long time, but I wasn’t making a living doing it and I wouldn’t have called myself a writer. I still don’t call myself a writer because I have so much respect for the writing game. I made a conscious effort towards the latter years [of "Entourage"] to go into the production office. I’ve always been in [creator Doug Ellin's] ear about potentially maybe writing - or at least co-writing - one episode and Doug to his credit has always said, “We’ll do it, but you’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to come to this office, I’m not going to just hand you an episode because you’re my boy.” He was willing to put his name on the script with me because he obviously did a lot of the heavy lifting. It showed that he had a little confidence in me and I owe him for that.
CNN: What’s the latest on an "Entourage" movie and what can the gang do to make sure it doesn’t suck?
Ferrara: As far as the status of the movie, I guess I could say it's looking good and there is potential. But in this business that really doesn’t mean much until you’re on set and you’re shooting. There’s been a lot of interest and I think it’s really going to boil down to what does Doug Ellin have left in the tank for a movie and the script. If all those things are right, and if [the business side] makes sense, I think there will absolutely be a movie.
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