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.


"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.'"


Dennis Hensley