Jeremy Piven: People actually think I’m Mr Selfridge

The Entourage actor tells about being mistaken for the department store owner and strolling along the streets of Shoreditch in his waistcoat

Jeremy Piven and Harry Gordon Selfridge. They’re two separate people, right? According to Piven – the star of ITV’s Mr Selfridge – not everyone is capable of making that distinction… 


“A woman came up to me and said, ‘He’s in Mr Selfridge! Your staff are really off their game, I got my nails done there and they’ve only lasted for two premieres and they’re chipping.’ And I said, ‘Oh yes, I’ll get right on that. You know that I’m an actor playing Harry Selfridge?’ I should have just gone with it.” 

The mind boggles, although chatting to the Entourage actor in Mr Selfridge’s stylish office on the set of the hit period drama, Piven is looking particularly resplendent with his silk waistcoat, bushy beard and gleaming teeth. “I could walk around Shoreditch and no one would bat an eye,” he quips, “but it would be rough to walk around Notting Hill like this.”

As you can probably tell, the 48-year-old is no stranger to London, having lived here during a college exchange programme before filming series one of Mr Selfridge in Wembley last year. For ITV it was a big coup, landing the Emmy Award winner to lead their series – but according to Piven, season two will see the drama broaden to other members of the cast. “It’s more of an ensemble feel so I think I’ll have more time to actually experience London whereas last year I might pop out on a Saturday night and fall asleep at someone’s birthday party in the corner. I think I became the number one person you don’t want to invite anywhere.” 

So, where do we find Harry Selfridge when the shopping drama picks up five years on with the store marking its fifth anniversary and the country teetering on the brink of World War I? “They’re celebrating him but it’s such a hollow victory for Harry because he’s lost the trust of his wife, Rose, so I think there’s a heaviness that he holds. The showman has been knocked down a bit.” 

But while it’s all doom and gloom for poor Harry, Piven is certainly enjoying the benefits of masquerading as the department store owner. “I finally get some love from my nieces because before they would just roll their eyes at Uncle Jeremy. My niece thought I worked for the bus company because we used to have ads for Entourage on the side of buses, but now she loves all things British. Her tone has totally changed and she’s doing gymnastics in front of me and pays more attention to me. Finally Uncle Jeremy has turned a corner.”

Series 2 of Mr Selfridge begins on Sunday 19 January at 9:00pm on ITV

Watch the trailer for the new series below: