He's become a famous actor by playing a famous actor on Entourage, and now, Adrian Grenier is stepping further inside the house of media mirrors by turning his camera on the paparazzi in his new documentary, Teenage Paparazzo (airing on Monday, September 27 on HBO at 9 p.m ET), a thoughtful exploration of the culture's complicated relationship with celebrity. "I don't think you can be too meta!" Adrian tells In Touch. Adrian talks about documentary participants Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Matt Damon and Alec Baldwin, and how being "Vincent Chase" on TV helped prepare him for real-life fame.
Click here for more on his chat with In Touch.
On his inspiration for Teenage Paparazzo, 14-year-old celebrity photographer Austin Visschedyk:
Our stars were aligned, so to speak, for sure. [When Austin took my photo], I was taken aback and intrigued on a personal human level. I saw this little kid out there holding his own, basically competing with these bigger, taller, fatter guys. He was like a Beverly Hills version of a street kid, wielding a different kind of gun. It wasn't until I merged my thoughts about him doing what he's doing with my own thoughts after reading this book called Mediated by Thomas de Zengotita, which is about the influence of media and its effect on all of us and kids in particular, that I realized this kid was a walking, breathing case study carrying out the themes of the book. I thought he was at this ripe, innocent moment where I could get him to reveal things an adult might have hidden away. But I was thinking that I'm getting to the matter by pointing my finger at the paparazzi and trying to teach this kid a lesson — and little did I know, I guess what I learned was that I was pretty much doing the same thing to Austin that the paparazzi was doing to me.
How being a celebrity — and playing one — helped uniquely qualify him for the documentary:
Through Vince [his Entourage character], I was able to reflect on celebrity, try it on for size and explore what it might be like so that I might avoid the pitfalls of fame. Playing Vince has been a great learning experience — and this movie is an extra step in trying to understand this phenomenon that I've been going through. By making this documentary, I also got a true appreciation for what the paparazzi does — there was a mutually respectful exchange, and I think they had a newfound appreciation for me, too. They didn't see me just as a paycheck.
On how he got celebrities like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Matt Damon and Alec Baldwin involved:
I'd like to thank Paris and Lindsay for promoting my movie from the courthouses and jailhouses! The various contributors contributed with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Matt Damon wanted me to do something with his charity ONEXONE — he came on Entourage and we did a viral video. Alec Baldwin had very specific things he wanted to talk about — the corporate interests involved in the celebrity industry.
On what he wants the documentary's audience to take away — and give back:
I think that media has the great power to reflect our values and the human condition. Austin embodied this sort of independent spirit, using his camera to communicate and reflect on his world. At first glance, I thought he was a little misguided perhaps, but at his core essence, he had something that we all share these days, the ability to use technology to reflect and communicate and take pictures, post and comment. I'm looking to get people excited for that reality, but also to recognize that we need to take responsibility for what we produce and put out. The audience's response is just as important. There's something that happens in a mutual exchange that's much more powerful than what happens in passively watching a film. A picture is worth a thousand words, but those words can lie. The idea is to bring more layers of reflection to content. I think people are actively seeking media that's more self-aware. The true learning comes from mutual exchange. People can go to teenagepaparazzo.com and talk back — there are tools on the website to facilitate a continued conversation.