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Target: Jeremy Piven, Smokin' Aces

Published January 22, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures.
Smokin' Aces- Jeremy Piven Jeremy Piven in Smokin' Aces
Jeremy Piven is usually quick with his mouth, most notably as Ari Gold on Entourage but also in any slew of sidekick roles complaining about the hero's situation. In Smokin' Aces, he had to learn speed with a deck of cards.

Interview: Jeremy Piven on Smokin' Aces


"Paul Wilson was the guy that I worked with for the magic and the thing that he said that the most important was to actually pull a trick off in front of people and he was absolutely right," said Piven. "I went to the Magic Castle and we got up there and I actually did a trick. It is addicting. It really is. I've been on the stage my entire life as an actor and it's a kind of another level where you pull this thing off and then to look in people's faces that are completely freaked out by something I could see why you could dedicate your life to that as I did to the stage, and so that was really informative for me. I had never really been around cards. I wasn't that guy and so I really had to work kind of extra hard and always have them in my hand, and they're kind of like worry beads for the character that I kind of incorporated. So that was really great, to always have them in my hand."

He plays Buddy "Aces" Israel, a casino performer/mob informant. As various assassins close in on his Lake Tahoe penthouse, Aces descends into a world of drugs and prostitutes that Piven relished.

"That's just what you live for as an actor, to get there. Joe [Carnahan] said to me when we met on this role, 'Do you want to go deep?' I mean, I've waited my entire life for that moment. I had been doing it onstage in Chicago for a couple of hundred people and so I always knew that I have an emotional instrument and I'm accessible in that way and a big cry baby, to be honest with you. So, I knew that I could tap into that. Also, even though a character like that is far from my experience there are a lot of metaphors there when you have a guy like that that's looking at himself in the mirror and wondering who he is and if he's a charlatan and what's happened to his life. I think that any one of us have had moments where we question ourselves. So these things are not too far from something that we can get into touch with and you just have to kind of make it real and go to that place."



That's not to say it was easy. "We had a moment where I had to get really, really emotional and I wasn't quite clicking in the way that I wanted to do. Joe asked me to put this little kind of twist into it that threw me off balance for a little bit and so I had to call upon some other stuff. It all sounds really cryptic what I'm saying here, but anyway I kind of connected on a very deep level that ends up being in the movie. I knew that it worked because I talked to Common afterwards and he said that he was in the other room and he felt something through the wall. So it was like, 'Okay then.' It was confirmed that I was sort of onto something. So the whole thing was just a complete gift."

It wasn't just an acting exercise though. "Joe and I knew that if you didn't care about this guy, if he had no heart when everyone was trying to kill him and extract his heart or put him on ice for the money, whatever their motivations were. Everyone was converging on this hotel room and if you didn't care about this character, if he didn’t have some potential as a human being and if it wasn't a tragedy then all the hard work that everyone puts into it wouldn't mean as much because you needed to have that central character be tragic. It was just an honor to be able to kind of live fully through that guy."

Smokin' Aces opens on January 26th.

For the trailers, posters, clips, full synopsis and more movie info, go to the Smokin' Aces Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Universal Pictures.
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