The Entourage wingman turns indie auteur.
Thu Apr 19 2007
Illustration: Rob Kelly
[Ed note: This story has been extended with online bonus content.]
Kevin Connolly is the kind of guy who tells you he'll call in "five to seven minutes" and then actually does. He doesn't say "five to ten," because that, he explains, wouldn't adequately convey his dedication to returning the call. Like the character he's best known for—steadfast Eric Murphy on HBO's Entourage—the dude's determined. Born in Long Island, Connolly, 33, has been acting since he was six and moved to Hollywood after high school to pursue showbiz full-time. Of late he's diversified—his feature-length directorial debut, the dark comedy Gardener of Eden (starring Lukas Haas, Erika Christensen and Giovanni Ribisi), premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival next week. He's also a bit of a gossip-rag fixture, having been linked to a series of starlets including Nicky Hilton (with whom he had a two-year relationship) and Haylie Duff. We caught up with Connolly on his day off and he graciously fielded our questions about dating, Eden and once directing a puppet played by Bobcat Goldthwait.
Am I talking to you in your home?
You're talking to me in my car. I'm just leaving the gym.
How was the workout?
It was good. Now that we're back shooting Entourage it's hard to get in there, so on the days off you can't mess around. Today I did biceps and triceps and 40 minutes of cardio. Now I'm smoking a cigarette.
You smoke? In L.A.?
You know what's funny? I recently picked it up again because I was feeling lots of pressure and stress. It's terrible. My mom is going to be reading this. By the way, I'm witnessing a road-rage incident as we speak.
Are you involved in it?
No. I'm watching from a safe distance.
You directed some episodes of Unhappily Ever After. How did directing a puppet compare with directing Lukas Haas?
[Laughs] Lukas Haas is great. He's a great friend. The puppet, that was weird because it was Bobcat Goldthwait and he had stolen my girlfriend [Nikki Cox].
Wow. How did it feel to lose a girl to Bobcat Goldthwait?
[Sarcastic] It felt great. Would it have been better if she'd left me for Brad Pitt? That's what my mom said to me when all that happened. It's an interesting point, right?
It's like if someone cheats on you, would you rather it be with someone of the same sex or someone of a different sex?
Would you consider Bobcat someone of a different sex? Probably.
He's someone of a different species. What was it like going out with Nicky Hilton?
It was a pretty normal relationship. I mean, look, there's a public end of it that can be annoying because people are in your business and that can be a pain in the ass, but that's just kind of the territory.
Are you single now?
Yes, I am—contrary to what people may think, I really am single.
How's it going?
It's good. I'm really busy with work, but I'm dating and it's been fun.
What's Gardener of Eden about?
It's about a kid from New Jersey who is trapped—working a dead-end job, smoking weed. He's basically a bum. He doesn't really fit in anywhere. He accidentally becomes a local hero by accidentally apprehending a wanted local rapist, and he thinks he's found his purpose. He thinks he was put there to save the town.
How are you feeling about the Tribeca premiere?
I'm ecstatic. It'll be a mix of my Long Island friends and my L.A. friends. It's going to be crazy.
Is Haylie Duff going to be on your arm?
No! You've been dying to ask that one, haven't you?
Yes, you have! You've been building up to that one for, like,ten minutes!
I've been torn between asking the serious questions and asking the Duff questions.
Haylie and I are really good friends. But I'm declaring myself single.
Are you someone who's not single for long stretches?
That's the thing—I've never really been single. I always end up in a relationship immediately. I'm trying to allow myself to be single for a while.
Why is that?
I don't know. I guess at the end of the day I really am a relationship kinda guy.
See, I'm doing the same thing, trying to stay single for a while. I'm afraid of blinking and waking up in a relationship I don't want to be in.
And it happens so quick. You turn around and all of a sudden you're with somebody. I'm trying to just focus on the work end of it, and when that happens, it happens. The other things is, let's face it, feelings don't ask permission, you know, so when it happens, it happens. It's when you're looking for a relationship that you'll never get in one. When you're trying to stay out of it, it seems to happen. Doesn't that seem to be the case?
I think that's because when you're desperate, that's a turnoff.
You're right; true, true, true. I can't believe you got more out of me than I've ever—that was pretty smooth of you. I never talk about that stuff; I don't know how you got that out of me.
So you're a tough nut to crack?
No, I'm not a tough nut to crack—it's just like you can never win talking about other people. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you discuss other people, words get twisted, things get turned around. But you somehow got it out of me.
I'm totally going to twist your words.
[Laughs] I'm confident that you won't. You seem nice.
Cut to me going: "How could she do that? Alison, how could you do that to me?"
Exactly! So I was looking at an online community profile of Patchogue, Long Island, and for "famous residents," all it says is "Dutch Schultz, gangster." Does that make you angry?
Are you kidding? That is just wrong! I was a homecoming king in high school! I was involved. I was a good member of the community, I thought. Obviously not.
Isn't that backward? I thought that popular actors are supposed to be dorks in high school.
You know what else is funny? Isn't the hot girl in high school supposed to be ugly at the reunion? The hottest girl in high school was the hottest girl at the reunion.
She's supposed to be fat and have a lot of kids.
No, she had no kids and looked better than she looked in high school.
So listen, I don't know much about hockey but from what I gather the following should get a rise out of you: I went out drinking one night with the Rangers for a story.
That didn't get the rise I was expecting. Aren't you supposed to see red and go nuts or something?
Yeah, because I hate the Rangers. You've done your homework! I'm impressed. What do you know about my hatred for the Rangers?
I just know you're an Islanders fan.
Die-hard Islanders fan—and we're going to the playoffs, and we're going big in the playoffs. Islanders are going to go deep into the playoffs. I feel it.
Do you paint your face?
Do I what?!?
Paint your face.
With Islanders colors? No, but I wear an Islanders hat. I'm wearing one on Entourage this year a couple times. The Islanders are the pride and joy of Long Island. They're all we got out there.
How is Entourage?
Entourage is great. It's honestly the greatest job you could ever have. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. We all know it, we're all very grateful to have the job. I would do 50 seasons of Entourage if they would have us.
Are you sure you're telling me the truth here?
I swear to God. If I were going to be lying to you I would have lied to you about other stuff.
Yeah, I see your point. How are you like Eric and how are you not like him?
Eric kind of takes things in stride that I don't know if I would take in stride. He's a little wimpy with girls, which bothers me.
And you're more of a player?
I'm not a player! I'm the girlfriend type! I always have girlfriends.
I don't mean player like sleazy, I just mean you have game. Do people say that anymore?
I don't know if I have game. Who knows?
Are you smooth?
I don't know, I have no idea. [Laughs]
If the way Eric is bothers you, that would suggest you're not that way. Do you have more balls?
You have more guts?
More guts. Yes, that's a better word.
Gardener of Eden premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival Apr 26. For screenings info, go to tribecafilmfestival.org.