Jeremy Piven’s new starring vehicle, “Last Call,” neatly parallels the lyrics of Semisonic’s “Closing Time” — about bar life and life in general: You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.
Piven’s real estate developer Mick is one of the few to have gotten out of his working class Philadelphia-area Darby Heights neighborhood, inspired by the real-life Upper Darby, and made something of himself. But he’s forced to confront his past when he returns home for a funeral. Mick sticks around a bit longer to keep his family’s bar from going under and work a new opportunity, all the while reevaluating his priorities.
The setting and Mick’s inner battles attracted the “Entourage” star to the film, which came out Friday in theaters and on demand.
“It was very specific in terms of this area in Philly: slice of life, pub culture, kind of first and second generation Irish community,” Manhattan-born Piven, 55, told the Daily News earlier this month of the “authentic” environs.
As for the role of Mick, the Emmy winner — best known for playing talent agent Ari Gold on the HBO hit — said he was drawn to the way Mick is “grappling with kind of the idea of success, his version of success versus family and loyalty and what matters most in this world ultimately.”
“People can become slaves to their ambition. And I think he was,” continued Piven, who believes most of his character’s decisions were initially driven by “the fear of ending up like ... that guy sitting at the bar for the rest of his life” like everyone he grew up with.
Mick’s trip down memory lane — which is sprinkled with sage advice from his former coach, played by Bruce Dern — takes a scenic detour when he starts reconnecting with childhood crush Ali (Taryn Manning).
Despite his fear of leaning into his past, Mick “had a great connection” with Ali that he “was never able to shake.
“And he comes back home and she’s even better than he remembered,” said Piven, pointing to Ali’s penchant for asking Mick the tough questions and challenging him, not least about selling out.
“There’s just that bond ... the thing they can’t really even articulate, they just know each other for so long,” Manning, best known for her role as Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett on “Orange is the New Black,” told The News.
The “8 Mile” actress, 42, said the pair just has “that home feeling” around one another.
Though the film sees its lead revisiting his past, it comes at a strange time for viewers, with many still sequestered at home, not having seen friends and families for nearly a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We used to just take it for granted that you could just bound to your neighborhood bar and kind of meet up with people,” said Piven. “And now we have a perspective how lucky we are just to be able to gather.”
The “Serendipity” actor finds the film’s timing serendipitous, as it “is a celebration of that: of people who have dedicated their lives to creating meeting places for us, which are so essential. We need to communicate with each other and laugh and connect. And we all miss that.”
Piven is also well aware that Mick will draw comparisons to that of his “Entourage” alter ego.
“I think any time I play a character who is successful and who wears the suit, I think they’re gonna go, ‘Ari Gold!’” he said. “And then it’s like reverse engineering and then you dismantle all of that and you get to who he really is.”
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