When Debi Mazar walks into Angelini Osteria restaurant in Los Angeles, it’s no surprise that heads turn. The tough yet feminine New York-born actress has had a long career playing roles that leave a lasting impression. Her debut performance as Henry Hill’s coke-snorting mistress in Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic Goodfellas launched a career of daring parts. And it was apropos that she was cast as one of the only women on Entourage, a show with more testosterone than a UFC title fight. It’s been a year’s hiatus since the most recent episode of the show; the boys were last seen at the Cannes Film Festival enjoying tres success with Vince’s latest film Medellin. Where is the show headed Season Five (debuting September 7 on HBO)? Mazar remains tight-lipped, but does offer, “They’re bringing it back to the grass roots of the early seasons of Entourage, where it was really about the guys and their relationships between each other.” As far as Mazar’s character Shauna — Vince’s sassy and sophisticated publicist — she says, “Shauna is as bitchy and strong as ever.”
Off-screen, the sexy actress plays her favorite role of all — mother to her two daughters (to quote Ari Gold from Season 2, “Got Milf?”). Mazar has even brought her creative talents to the Internet, starring alongside her Italian-born husband, Gabriele Corcos, in a self-produced online cooking show called Under The Tuscan Gun. Interestingly, the weekly show is filmed right in their very own kitchen. When I tell Mazar that the chemistry between her and her husband on the cooking show reminds me of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, she quickly adds, “My husband is a conga player.”
I sat down and spoke with Mazar about Entourage, Italian cooking, her thoughts on relocating abroad to Florence, the possibility of romance between Shauna and Johnny Drama, and more. Where is Shauna headed in this upcoming season of Entourage? She comes back as the same tough professional publicist/den mother to the boys. She’s also Johnny Drama’s publicist this season, which has been a lot of fun. I’m also back to my pre-baby body, so I was able to get into fabulous wardrobe again. It’s always fun to be an actress working in LA, on location, on a hot show, wearing really fabulous things that I personally could never afford.
Your character, like Ari, has a hard edge. Will we see a softer side to Shauna this year? No. As a matter of fact, every time I try to humanize Shauna and apologize for something that the character says or does that may have caused a problem, Doug Ellin tells me she’s strong and not to apologize. I think the only soft side she’s displayed on the show was when she was pregnant.
Motherhood hasn’t tamed Shauna even the slightest bit? No, not at all. If anything motherhood has made her more diligent. She’s also a little wiser, more patient and worldly. However, nothing has changed. She’s back to work looking as good as ever, and there’s never any mention of her personal life at all.
I have always wondered who’s the father of Shauna’s child? Does she have a baby mama? I don’t know. I thought that Shauna was a lesbian when we first started because I really had no backstory. Of course being an actor I wanted to create one, but sometimes less is more. And the show is not about Shauna. Entourage is a show about five guys in a half hour. I accepted that a long time ago. It’s all up to Doug Ellin and the writers.
You were a longtime member of Madonna’s entourage. Do the writers ever pick your brain for stories? No, because I was never a member of Madonna’s entourage. Madonna and I are really old friends and remain really old friends. I have never had an entourage or even been a part of one. I was always a loner. I left home at 15 and got a New York City apartment. I worked as a makeup artist from the age of 16 until I was 22 while I was going to acting school. I had many friends who hung around in entourages. But I don’t like to hang around with “yes” people, and I’m not into being around to just decorate the scenery. I like real conversations and real moments. Now, my family is my entourage.
Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Piven, Adrian Grenier, and Debi Mazar in ‘Entourage.’
How accurate do you think Entourage is in depicting Hollywood? I think Entourage is very accurate. The perks that some of the big actors get in real life are pretty outrageous, so I don’t think the show is far from the truth. All of the relationships are written from experiences, and I think people in the business can relate to certain situations and find them funny. But I don’t know about five guys of their age hanging out constantly. I think the idea of that would be kind of pathetic. Just like on Sex and the City, when the girls are always hanging out, I ask myself, “Where do these women find all of this time?”
Sex and the City was all about the women. Entourage is the opposite. What’s it like to be a member of an all boys club? I can sit down with any of the male cast members and have a great conversation. They respect me. I have always been a woman that was able to sit down with men. I had a series in development where I worked with Michael Mann. For many, many months I would sit in a room with Michael and great writers who were all men. I never felt that I was a part of them. I can certainly relate to men, but I always felt very much like a woman in that room, with my own private dialogue going on in my head.
You’re in the upcoming film The Women, which has an all-female cast. How did it feel going from Entourage to that movie? Going from the power of working with a male group full of testosterone to working with a female group was very different kind of energy, but just as exciting and powerful. What’s great about this film is the coming together of this stellar cast of women to collectively make this movie — a movie no studio executive would make because there are no men in it. I was actually auditioned 13 years ago for the role of the manicurist. Then, the film didn’t get made. One day, my husband happened to have the trades sitting on his desk, and he read that they had just cast Eva Mendes in this remake of The Women. I called up my manager and asked if she knew if my role was taken. She made some calls, and 10 minutes later, I had the role again as the manicurist. When I got the news that I landed the part, it was really exciting for me. It felt very powerful and fulfilling to go on the set and work with all women.
How has celebrity changed for you since you entered the business? When I entered the business, celebrity to me was about reading great journalistic pieces in magazines like Playboy and Rolling Stone. I also found back then that there was a lot more mystery to actors and celebrities. I was able to watch a movie and not know their personal lives and really be completely drawn into their characters. Personally, in those days, I was able to walk down the street and be a human being and not worry about paparazzi. Today, if you are on TV and you have a public life, you’re living in a fishbowl. I’m resentful about it, and it’s difficult because I’m a private person. The pressure that people have in this town to keep up with the Joneses, as well as to keep their youth and appearance together, isn’t why I came out here. I came out here to be Bette Davis, not to be on TMZ being chased down Robertson Boulevard for buying a new bra. I have never lived a scandalous life. Nobody’s interested if you are a married woman, unless you are having an affair with someone or getting a divorce. But that’s not my life.
Do you find that your frequent trips to Italy keep you grounded? Yes. My frequent trips anywhere outside Hollywood help keep me grounded, but especially Europe. Two years ago, I came back to the United States and there was a big public fight here between Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell, and I missed the whole thing because nobody cares about that shit in Italy. They just report news and this wasn’t news. I’m a blogger and an Internet person, and I will read about this stuff regardless. But when I’m in Italy, I’m surrounded by poetry, history, family, culture, and fabulous food. We plan to move to Florence one day.
Speaking of fabulous food, your online cooking show, Under The Tuscan Gun, is a blast. Tell me how this got started. We enjoy watching many cooking shows on television. One night I came home and said to my husband, why don’t we put our own show on camera because we always cook together and laugh and have a great time in the kitchen. We stuck a camera on someone who wasn’t even a cameraman. My husband bought a $40 software package and edited it, then posted it. All of a sudden, by the third episode, we were getting incredible response. People love the relationship, intimacy, and the American take we have on Tuscan culture. It was encouraging for people because cooking shows on the Food Network are all so perfect with fancy backgrounds, expensive pots and pans, and product placement. Our show is in our own kitchen, and the dishes we prepare are as close as what we would serve you if you came into our house in Florence.
Debi Mazar and husband Gabriele Corcos.
How sexy do you think it is when a man cooks? For me, there is nothing sexier. My husband looks really hot in the kitchen — his hair is slicked back, dish rag tucked into his belt loop, big muscles bulging as he holds the frying pan. My second sexiest thing to watch on TV or on the Internet is male soccer players. Last question, I have always felt some sexual tension between you and Johnny Drama. Is that just me? It’s so funny you should say that, because I thought early in the series that our characters were going to go that way. I know Kevin Dillon and his family since the early 1980s, and it feels like I’m working with my brother. So, if I were to have a sex scene with Johnny Drama, it would feel like I was having sex with my brother.
Top photo of Debi Mazar by Jeremiah Alley.