Jeremy Piven: Pived Off

Though Jeremy Piven plays an ex-medical student on TV's "Ellen," the day I visit him on the sitcom's set he looks more like the construction worker from the Village People, right down to his bright yellow hard hat.

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"I was sleeping on my lunch break," explains the 30-year-old actor, "when a forklift smashed into my trailer. Disney freaked and sent me this hard hat. I wear it at all times." Piven's headgear will come in handy if the avalanche of film scripts continues to fall his way. The Chicago native has a quartet of new films: the Bill Murray comedy Larger Than Life, the heist movie Livers Ain't Cheap, the slice-of-life indie Layin' Low and the black comedy Grosse Point Blank. In Blank, Piven plays John Cusack's best friend, a role he's been playing in real life for over 20 years. In the '80s the pair started their own theater company, and it's then that Piven first realized he was a danger-magnet. "I was on stage," he recalls, "and a piece of chair got stuck right above my eye. Blood squirted out like some Peckinpah wet dream." Luckily, future "Friends" amigo David Schwimmer was backstage. "He put a patch over my eye. I went back on stage and said, 'That's the last time I try gardening.'"

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Dennis Hensley



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