Jeremy Piven has won three Emmy Awards playing confident, can-do agent Ari Gold on HBO's "Entourage," so his turn as the bumbling, sycophantic coffee boy in Funny or Die's new commercial campaign for Hot Wheels is a striking departure from the veteran actor's most recognizable role. But which character does he resemble more?
"This character that I'm playing in this Hot Wheels thing is the antithesis of Ari Gold. Which guy am I more like? Believe it or not, I'm more like the coffee guy in the Hot Wheels thing than Ari Gold," Piven, 45, said during an interview at the 2011 American International Toy Fair at the Javits Center in New York City.
Hot Wheels, with its die-cast cars, trucks and motorcycles, has been a staple of childhood for generations. With the introduction of Team Hot Wheels -- four masked daredevil drivers who'll star in commercials and make public appearances -- the company hopes to appeal to speed enthusiasts both young and old.
Targeting the valuable 18- to 24-year-old demographic would usually mean hiring a scantily clad supermodel, said Simon Waldron, vice president of marketing for Hot Wheels. Instead, the company went a different direction, partnering with Adam McKay and Will Ferrell of Funny or Die to create a commercial campaign starring Piven. His character aspires to be the fifth driver for Team Hot Wheels, and so he puts together a montage of video clips (all pathetically fake) that tries to sell the foursome on his qualifications to be a member of the team.