Hollywood star Jeremy Piven talks to TV Times magazine about the success of ITV drama Mr Selfridge (Sundays) and why he loves Britain so much…
Hi Jeremy! How do you feel about Mr Selfridge, seeing as you not only play the lead role but are also a producer on the show?
“Listen, you have to take everything I say about Mr Selfridge with a grain of salt because I’m very close to the show! I love it and really believe that each episode gets better. Viewers have seen five instalments now and the last felt like it could be the end of the series. But we’re only halfway through and it’s like: ‘How are you going to top that?’ Yet writer Andrew Davies and the team do…”
The show’s been a success over here. Seeing as you’re in America, do you get feedback about the programme?
“Everything’s a little secondhand for me, but apparently it’s going well. It means a lot that it’s been received well because we loved doing it.”
What do you like about Mr Selfridge?
“I loved the way Andrew mapped out the whole series. American shows don’t do that, they write a pilot and don’t have any idea where it’s going to go.”
You, like the real Mr Selfridge, grew up in Chicago. Do you think that helped you land the role?
“I had a real sense of where this guy came from. What’s interesting, is that the casting people didn’t know I was from Chicago. I did my native accent for them – it’s very hard on the ears with hard Rs – and they were like: ‘What is that? Don’t do that!’”
Are you very different to him in real life?
“Harry is a showman and likes to be the centre of attention, whereas I like to disappear in a room and watch everyone else.”
Have you enjoyed the role?
“Yeah I have because there’s so much going on with this guy. There’s a very interesting duality with him which makes for compelling drama – he does love his family yet he’s a risk addict.”
As the show was filmed between March and October last year, you spent plenty of time in London. What did you think of the city?
“That you can have a conversation with anyone and they don’t assume that you want something from them. You’re very pleasant, social, intelligent and passionate people with this very strong belief that ‘We are in this together’ and that’s not just talk. I was here during the Jubilee and the Olympics, so everyday there was something amazing going on.”
Did you find time to pay a visit to the real-life Selfridges on Oxford Street?
“I did, and Harry would be very proud of me because I made several purchases there! I bought some Tom Ford cologne, which I love, and a couple of jackets. I went very much under the radar, which was nice. I don’t know if that will last for ever, though, considering I am playing Mr Selfridge!”