You play hockey in Four Brothers—was that new for you?
I hadn’t skated for 23 years, man. So six months of skating, two minutes of screen time.
And now you’re making a football movie, Invincible. Did you play when you were a kid?
We played sandlot style. Hockey and football are two very expensive sports, neither one which I could afford to play organized. But we played everything right in the street.
What else were you playing in the street?
Oh, baseball, basketball, robberies, drug-dealing.
What’s the dumbest thing you ever spent money on?
The first check I ever got for a hundred thousand dollars, I went right to the Mercedes dealer and gave it to them, which was pretty stupid, because I’ve got to drive the car around Dorchester, and that’s not a good idea. It got keyed, plus I didn’t have money for insurance.
If there’s a crowd of people, can you figure out by looking at them which ones are going to be your fans?
I have no clue. It’s been like that since I was rapping. You go to my shows, there’d be a bunch of girls, and there’d be a bunch of older guys–and they weren’t the fathers of the girls. It took a while to figure out what the hell they were doing there. I think the handlebar mustache should have been a giveaway, but I wasn’t familiar with that either. It was all good.
What’s the best advice your mother ever gave you?
To keep my pants on.
Do you still have the third nipple? I know you were thinking of getting it surgically removed.
No, I’ve come to embrace it. That thing’s my prized possession.
People are treating Entourage like a game, trying to figure out how the show connects to your career, like Aquaman equals Planet of the Apes. Is it that close?
Well, Aquaman isn’t Planet of the Apes, but it’s been a lot of different things, from my life or other guys in the business. At this stage of the game, the writers take liberties–it’s a TV show. That shit is a lot more watered down than my life, anyway.
Tell me something from your life that hasn’t made it on the show.
Well, nobody’s had a fistfight yet. Vince hasn’t hit Drama with a stick or a bat.
What’s the difference between your brother and Johnny Drama?
That’s one of the most ridiculous misconceptions–people think that Johnny Drama is based on my brother. The real Johnny Drama is a guy who’s worked with me on and off for fifteen years. The difference between my brother and Johnny Drama is about fifty million dollars.
So why did you hit the real Johnny Drama with a stick?
Man, who knows? Burning the egg whites? It could have been anything. We’re constantly breaking each other’s balls. That’s how I was raised. I can’t wait to go to the Four Brothers premiere and thank my dad for giving me the skills to verbally abuse people.
Give me a classic insult from your dad.
Oh, his favorite is “You’re a fucking donkey.” My dad’s a teamster from Boston.
So was he the one always cussing people out and your mom was the religious one?
Yeah, but my mother, she’ll cuss you out too. There isn’t a person in my family that doesn’t have the ability to do it. I was raised on tough love. It wasn’t everybody running around telling everybody how great you are. They tell you that you suck, but you’ll get better.
Do people still tell you that?
Are you crazy? That’s what they wait for! Imagine all my friends sitting around, watching Huckabees. They’re like, it’s pretty cool when you punch that guy in the face but the rest of it, who gives a fuck? How am I going to explain an existential comedy to my buddy who just got out of jail? He wants to see tits and ass and some heads being busted.
Did you ever piss off Harvey Weinstein in real life, like Vince did on the show?
Well, he’s never said anything to me, but he was upset when I ordered a couple of bottles of ’61 Château Pétrus at the Cannes Film Festival. You know? I don’t think Harvey’s been as mad at me as I have been at him. I made one movie with Miramax [The Yards]. And you know, they didn’t handle it the way I hoped, but it’s their money. He’s asked me to do some things since, but they haven’t been right for me. And I’m only doing what’s right for me now. I’m not going to make a movie with Jonathan Demme just because he’s Jonathan Demme if I don’t like the script or the part. You know? I’m doing movies that I want to be in, that I want to see, and more importantly, that I think people would want to see me in. I’ve paid my dues.
Does that mean more movies like Four Brothers and fewer movies like Huckabees?
Not necessarily. David O. [Russell], James Gray, Paul Thomas Anderson, those guys, I’ll come out for anything. Those are my boys. But that doesn’t mean a fuckin’ favor for every motherfucker in the business. You know what I’m saying? I don’t give a fuck if you’ve got an Oscar—if you ain’t fuckin’ giving it to me, I don’t give a fuck.
Interview by Gavin Edwards. Originally published (in a shorter form) in Rolling Stone 981 (August 25, 2005).