The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday January 17th


Q and A with Adrian Grenier

Adrian Grenier is the first to admit that he’s famous for pretending to be famous.

But that kind of self-reflexive awareness is exactly the kind of thing that Grenier — star of HBO’s hit comedy, “Entourage” — wants to explore in his work and art.

He’s bringing his documentary, “Teenage Paparazzo,” to UNC’s Carroll Hall this Saturday.

The film, which starts as an exploration of a would-be teenage celebrity photographer and morphs into a free-wheeling cultural study of pop, celebrity worship and images, was released in December. The DVD came was released this Tuesday.

Grenier spoke with Arts Editor Nick Andersen about his film, his personal philosophy and his N.C. connections.

Daily Tar Heel: So tell me about this film — what’s the deal?

Adrian Grenier: I’ve been put into this bizarre situation — becoming a celebrity by playing one on TV.

The question of what that means came up and the curiosities became sort of overwhelming.

DTH: And what kinds of things did you discover while filming this documentary?

AG: The discoveries were actually pretty vast.

I mean, what started as a simple focus on a young boy became more of a cultural uncovering of a phenomenon that is pretty rampant in our culture.

It’s this culture of creating images and then following them until they actually become something that you put into the hands of the public.

DTH: The diversionary focus of your documentary — starting one place and going somewhere else — is that something you think is common in more recent documentary features?

AG: There are a couple different kinds of documentaries.

The exploratory kind, you start with a premise — I definitely think that it happens that way.

I think when you put the camera out into the world and you ask questions, the answer is invariably revealed. And it’s a kind of experiment — the bigger questions you ask, the more you get.

DTH: So the DVD dropped on Tuesday. Why this tour, and why now?

AG: Documentaries don’t get as much of a life as the big Hollywood star-driven feature films. They aren’t romantic comedies.

This was a sort of non-traditional way to bring the film to the masses while at the same time allowing it to be a tool for education on the media; a way to create a deeper understanding of the media.

The aims are two-fold: one, let’s let the film have a life beyond the screen; and two, let it be an interactive experience.

Not a film that dulls or numbs the creative process — no, let it be something that inspires people to go out and create.

DTH: And what’s the response been on this tour? What kinds of art have people created?

AG: A lot of the artists that are in the exhibit are artists and friends who have seen the film, been inspired and donated to the tour.

The works are examples of how to creatively respond to the film, how to think critically about what you consume and regurgitate something positive.

DTH: With “Entourage,” with this movie — your work really seems to be incredibly self-reflective, a sort of back and forth mirror. Is that intentional?

AG: There’s this whole notion about celebrity culture and the dead end relationship there.

The whole theme of my ‘celebrity guilt’ is that I’ve out promoting this ‘entourage celebrity,’ instead of consumptive culture.

Part of my responsibility is to try and give back and promote a healthier relationship with the stuff that we consume.

I actually relish the whole ‘meta’ aspect of the film. I think we are in a place where continuous relfection is a part of our lives. Media is proliferating exponentially, and there’s this self-awareness and the awareness of that self-awareness, for everybody.

I’m not different. Maybe my experiences are more sort of tangible, actually. My experience is being a celebrity on a show, and this film just tries to have fun with that.

DTH: Have you ever been to North Carolina?

AG: Yes, of course. One my best friends went to North Carolina School of the Arts, and I went to visit him there. It’s a great place.

DTH: So what’s next for the film? How long will this tour go on?

AG: My goal is to let “Teenage Paparazzo” be the “Catcher in the Rye” of its time. I’d like it to be permanent, to be the ‘go-to’ piece for this topic in the curriculum.

Grenier will host a screening of his film, “Teenage Paparazzo,” at 6 p.m. Saturday in Carroll Hall Room 111. Tickets are free, and available at the Student Union Box Office. OneCards are required.

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