Ari Would Be Proud


Kevin Connolly has up to now been known as either Vince’s levelheaded BFF-manager Eric from HBO’s
Entourage or as Nicky Hilton’s pint-sized ex. But now that the diminutive Long Island native has a film opening at Tribeca, meet the new Connolly: independent movie director. In his first feature-length movie, Gardener of Eden, Adam (Lukas Haas), a 25-year-old college dropout languishing in his Jersey hometown, inadvertently catches a local rapist and then begins to exact vigilante justice on local criminals. I caught up with Connolly while taping the fourth season of Entourage to talk about growing up in the ‘burbs, the “hometown riptide,” and working with his best friends.

What drew you to Gardener of Eden initially? With a resume that includes
Rocky V and The Notebook, it’s not exactly in the mold of your past work.
It’s genre-bending. It’s not at all a comedy, though there are funny moments. It’s definitely really dark, but it’s peculiar. That’s what drew me to it—the peculiarity. It’s about guys who live close to the city, but are still very much outside. I related to that—I grew up on Long Island [and] it was always “let’s hop on the train and go to the city,” but you were still outside. I knew a lot of guys who went away to college and either failed or quit, so they came back and got stuck in the hometown riptide.

How was it directing your Entourage co-star Jerry “Turtle” Ferrara?
Since it’s an indie film, I wanted to use as many of my friends as possible because I knew there would be difficult times and you need people who will be able to give you 100 percent. Jerry and I have a shorthand. The thing about Entourage is it’s a high-budget production. The look on Jerry’s face when he saw the difference—it was certainly something.

Lukas Haas’s character, Adam, is a pretty conflicted soul. Do you empathize with his vigilante mission? We tried to make his character as sympathetic as possible, even though at the end of the day, what he’s doing is just wrong. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So, what’s it going to be after Entourage ends? Acting or directing? I’ve been wanting to direct for over 10 years. When I was on [the WB series] Unhappily Ever After I directed a few episodes. I directed two shorts—one 16mm, one 35mm—so I was taking logical steps toward directing a feature film. But I think it’s a completely legit idea to be able to do both acting and directing. Look at Ben Stiller—granted, he gets to do it with $100 million movies, but . . . .