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Why Hollywood Won't Cast Adrian Grenier Much Anymore

Actor and activist Adrian Grenier has appeared in lots of television series and movies, but he's overwhelmingly known for one role that he played in both mediums: up-and-coming movie star Vincent Chase in the Hollywood bro-comedy Entourage. Grenier appeared in nearly 100 episodes of the breezy, era-defining single-cam sitcom, and he and his castmates were collectively nominated for many Emmys, Teen Choice Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards during the height of the show's popularity, which was still considerable right up until the final curtain — they went out on a high when the last ever episode pulled in 3.1 million viewers. Grenier reprised his role for the successful 2015 Entourage feature film.

Unfortunately for Grenier, he's fallen off the radar somewhat. As it turns out, the character we loved watching him play for the best part of seven years was a much bigger star than Grenier himself ever turned out to be. Here is why he doesn't get many movie offers anymore.

He couldn't shake off the Entourage tag

Post-Entourage, Adrian Grenier has struggled to shake off the high-rolling party-boy typecast, with the shadow of Vincent Chase seemingly destined to hang over him for the remainder of his career. The nature of playing an actor in a show meant that there was always a danger of people blurring the line between the real actor and the character, though, in truth, Grenier himself has never really helped separate the two. "It's funny because what people don't know is I too wish that I was Vince," Grenier said. "I'm not, I play the character. At the end of the day, I go home and I'm me. I share that fantasy as well — have a lifestyle with no consequences? Sounds great!"

While he admits to fantasizing about the A-list lifestyle and everything that comes with it, Grenier isn't quite ready to be recognized absolutely everywhere he goes just yet. He revealed that he finds getting spotted by Entourage fans a little weird at times, with some of them seemingly unable to recognize boundaries. 

"Fans can sometimes lose themselves and lose sight of the fact that we're in public or the situation might be awkward," he said. "I've been using the bathroom, the urinal, and fans have come up to me and literally wanted to hug it out in that moment, and I'm like, 'Are you out of your mind? Can you give me a second? OK, cool. Thanks!'" 

He got 'greedy'

Adrian Grenier's best shot at solidifying himself as a genuine movie star came when he was given the chance to front the Entourage movie, though it was a project fraught with setbacks, eventually coming out four years after the show ended. Entourage wasn't exactly fresh in the public's memory by 2015, and when the film flopped both with the critics and at the box office, the stars only had themselves to blame, according to producer Mark Wahlberg. The real Hollywood A-lister put the pretenders on blast when quizzed about delays to the movie, telling paparazzi at LAX that Entourage would begin production "As soon as them guys stop being so greedy."

Grenier took the outburst personally, taking to Instagram to explain himself to followers. "I take my role as Vince on the show and off very seriously," he posted. "All decisions I make personally and for business are for the principle of friendship and brotherhood. It has, and never will be about the money for me, I promise." 

The actor went on to defend his refusal to sign a deal, claiming he was holding out until his castmates received similarly lucrative offers. "The spirit of Entourage is about sharing the opportunities given to us and I will sign any deal that gives ALL the boys an opportunity to share in the upside of success EQUALLY. I assure you, despite the perception, there is no greed in my heart."

He turned to music

In his spare time, Adrian Grenier plays in two New York-based rock bands. The multitalented actor sings lead vocals for Kid Friendly, though his other group, the Honey Brothers, have had a little more exposure, largely because of their bizarre sound — they call themselves a glam rock ukulele band. "With all these people defining things, we just figured we'd give it a stab but I don't know how accurate we were," Grenier said of the band's approach before his bandmates jumped in to clarify. "We used to be a glam rock ukulele band, and now we call ourselves a new wave folk band ... one night we were a goth ukulele band."

Whatever genre they were claiming to be when they played Harrah's in Atlantic City, one audience member wasn't into it. "You suck, Grenier," a man shout shouted as he launched his drink at the actor, leaving him wet and shaken, according to an eyewitness. "Adrian looked shocked," the witness recalled. "Security came running up to the stage and had the guy removed." 

The band clearly likes to flaunt the fact that their drummer is a Hollywood actor by putting him center stage every now and again. "Adrian took the lead and guitar for two songs, which was not the best idea," one reviewer said. "I understand why they did it, they know who the girls are here to see, but when he started playing a guitar solo with a recorder they lost me completely."

He ran his own record label

Hecklers and bad reviews weren't going to stop Adrian Grenier from continuing his love affair with music. The actor dreamed of having his own recording studio as a boy, and the money he made on Entourage allowed him to make that dream a reality. The "wreckroom" started as a personal hub for Grenier and his friends to jam, but the unique space he created (which he called a "music incubator") became so popular with local artists that it soon grew into a full-fledged label. Wreckroom Records became completely free for bands to use, and Grenier and his team will also make you a music video without charging a cent.

"The Skins were one of the first bands that came through The Wreckroom," Grenier said. "They blew us away and they really solidified in my mind what is possible with this platform. ... We have a really cool, vibrant community that's really attractive to young artists who don't want to have to prove themselves to [labels]. With us, it's simply: 'Here is the opportunity. Everything is free.'" 

Grenier's model involves using technology to remind listeners that music is always best heard live. "I look at the internet as a tool. ... I want to grow the internet so that artists can use the tools and bring it back to three dimensions. Music is a wave that pushes air into your eardrums, it should always be physical. It shouldn't get lost in the digital world."

He dedicates a lot of time to environmental issues

Adrian Grenier spends a lot of his time on philanthropic causes and has a particular passion for green living. He hosted environmental awareness show Alter Eco for Discovery Channel's sister station Planet Green, and in 2009, when Entourage was starting to enter the twilight of its run, one of his side projects piqued the interest of Forbes. The business mag did a writeup on an app the actor was developing called EcoHero – a barcode-scanning tool that would allow the user to see the environmental impact of a product before purchasing it.

Sadly for Grenier and greenies everywhere, the EcoHero app never made it out of the development stage, though the actor has continuously found other ways to promote his views on the environment in the years since. He later founded SHFT, the organization responsible for the Mobile Kitchen Classroom healthy eating initiative that serves youths across all five boroughs of New York. As he put it, "Getting kids involved with food is the most powerful way to help them connect with the environment, their health, and their communities."

His whale documentary disappeared

Adrian Grenier is also the co-founder of the Lonely Whale Foundation, an organization "dedicated to bringing people closer to the world's oceans through education and awareness, inspiring empathy and action for ocean health and the wellbeing of marine wildlife." 

The foundation was inspired by the Grenier-produced documentary 52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale (alternately Finding 52), which follows a crew of scientists and filmmakers on an expedition to find a rare species of whale that lives its entire life in solitude because the frequencies it sings at (52hz) cannot be heard by other whales.

The ambitious Kickstarter project started generating buzz when fellow greenie Leonardo DiCaprio donated $50,000 to Grenier's coffers, pushing the donations up to the required $300,000 mark. The expedition went ahead and "succeeded in finding a major concentration of blue whales despite the warm el Nino conditions," according to lead scientist John Calambokidis, who confirmed that "close to 100 blue whales were sighted across the multiple days including blue, fin, and humpback whales." But whether or not they found the world's loneliest whale or not remains a mystery — the documentary missed its planned 2016 release date and has yet to see the light of day.

He fell flat on his face as an action star

Adrian Grenier attempted to follow in the footsteps of Entourage producer Mark Wahlberg (upon whom his character Vincent Chase was based) by reinventing himself as a tough guy, though his 2017 action thriller Arsenal tanked, earning a paltry three percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The LA Times named it a contender for the worst movie of the year, while The AV Club derided "Grenier's vaguely unconvincing attempts at toughness." Arsenal was Grenier's second botched attempt at reinventing himself in as many years — he also failed to impress in the 2016 bank robbery picture Marauders, which IndieWire deemed a "hyper-convoluted heist movie that's every bit as generic as its title might suggest."

Undaunted, Grenier tried again in 2018, starring in the thriller Affairs of State, about an inexperienced campaign aide who finds himself in hot water after sleeping with a presidential candidate's wife (Mimi Rogers) and daughter (Thora Birch). It saw only a limited release in the U.S.

Audiences don't find him funny, either

The failure of the Entourage movie made many viewers (including fans of the show) realize that the characters just aren't that funny a lot of the time, a fact that became painfully clear on the big screen. "Entourage is feeble, and the big screen magnifies its unselfconscious obnoxiousness," The Guardian wrote, echoing the popular opinion that the film was neither funny nor entertaining enough. The terrible reaction to the movie shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise, however, as a look back at Adrian Grenier's record in comedies that he's never really been able to make people laugh.

You could argue that 2006's The Devil Wears Prada is a notable exception to this rule, though that film has been bookended by several comedic flops. Drive Me Crazy, Harvard Man, Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding, and Adventures of Power all have terrible scores on Rotten Tomatoes, rated at 33 percent or less by the website's extensive network of critics. While his rom-coms have admittedly been slightly more bearable than his action outings, he isn't exactly in demand on Hollywood's comedy circuit right now.

In 2020, Grenier co-starred in the so-so reviewed, primarily streaming comedy Stage Mother, about a prim and proper Texas church choir director (Jacki Weaver) who inherits her late son's drag club. (Grenier plays the son's prickly friend.)

He's just not bankable

One of the most obvious metrics Hollywood uses to gauge star power is bankability, which is another way of describing the return on investment (ROI) a studio can expect when paying out a star's salary. In Adrian Grenier's case, the ROI on hiring him doesn't look bad at first glance. According to The Numbers, he can boast a lifetime worldwide box office gross of just under $400 million dollars. Sounds pretty solid, right? But if you take away the $326 million for The Devil Wears Prada – an ensemble film he was barely in — and the $46 million for the Entourage movie, that actually leaves around $25 million earned by 11 movies. If you further isolate the figures to just his leading roles, of which there have been only five in a 20-year acting career, Grenier's total worldwide box office gross drops to under $1 million.

Just to put that into perspective, within approximately the same career span, Mark Wahlberg, the actor for whom Grenier's role in Entourage was based, has pulled in over $3.5 billion dollars in 25 starring roles. Given those two balance sheets side by side, which actor do you think a studio executive is going to pick up the phone and call first?

He's not really interested in acting right now

As previously mentioned, Adrian Grenier's environmental activism seems to have taken priority in his life. In fact, as of this writing, he's lent his celebrity to the #StopSucking movement, which challenges the world to discontinue the use of single-use plastic straws that end up discarded in the ocean at alarming rates. His efforts, in combination with his Lonely Whale Foundation, even helped enact a ban on the straws for the entire city of Seattle.  

For Grenier, this kind of work is clearly more important than his acting career, which he indicated in a 2015 Reddit AMA. "Every performer has to deal with insecurities or feeling of inadequacies. But ultimately I'm have pretty stable ego, and that's because of the documentary work and environmental work I do," he wrote. "At the end of the day it doesn't matter how famous you are, more important to give back to the world."

Not only is he pivoting hard toward activism, but Grenier is also now looking to distance himself from his screen résumé. When asked in a 2017 interview with Greenwire what his "favorite part about playing Vincent Chase on Entourage was," Grenier said, "I'd rather not discuss that and go backward. I want to go forward. What I will say is that I do have a couple of films that I'm circling, and I'm really just looking for the next role that is appropriate for where I am. Right now, I've just been focused on oceans, and I'm not rushing anything on the acting front."

Where does he go from here?

So, if it isn't in comedy or action movies, where does Adrian Grenier's future lie? He'd headed back from whence he once emerged: cable television. Grenier voiced the character Captain Joe on a dozen episodes of the Disney Junior sci-fi cartoon Miles from Tomorrowland, and in 2019, he starred in Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays, one of the latest entries in Hallmark Channel's annual collection of warm and comforting seasonal romantic dramas. In 2021, he'll head to Netflix with Clickbait, an ensemble miniseries thriller about the dangers of online life.

Grenier is long overdue for a break, but even if it doesn't come, he's probably got his hands full with his role as a United Nations environment goodwill ambassador. Grenier was recently the second person to be given the title, which he's thrilled to be sharing with supermodel Gisele Bündchen, among others. "Together we must usher in a new era of compassion and carefulness through forward thinking environmental programs to drive measurable change," urged Grenier. Let's hope he has more luck with saving the planet than he's had in his post-Entourage acting career.