Print and Go Back Rise [Print without images]

Monday, February 1, 2010
Updated: February 9, 5:21 PM ET
Jerry Ferrara one-on-one with RISE

By Jared Zwerling

Jerry Ferrara, who plays Turtle from HBO's hit series "Entourage," catches up with ESPN RISE before filming the upcoming season.

ESPN RISE: You must miss "Entourage" a lot when you're not filming.
Ferrara: It's kind of like high school a little bit. You get your break for summer and you're like, "Wow, thank God. I'm going to play golf, I'm going to go visit my family. I'm going to do all these things." Then a month or two goes by and you're kind of just like, "Man, I miss everybody over there. I want to go back to school." The first month, it's usually everybody running away, but then you slowly start to see everybody.

ESPN RISE: Stepping into your character Turtle for a minute, what do you think he's learned about himself through the years on the show?
Ferrara: I think in the beginning, he always thought that he was limited in a lot of things. But as the show's evolved, Turtle is now at the point where he's saying, "Hey, I can probably be good at something if I really just tried." I don't think he's every tried anything fully. He's been kind of content with just being Vince's best friend, but now he's more confident, and I think he's going to take a stab at being a semi-success on his own in the next season.

High School Favorites

Movie: "The Usual Suspects"
TV Show: "The Sopranos"
Actor: Sean Penn
Book: "The Wanderers" by Richard Price

ESPN RISE: How did your sports obsession come about?
Ferrara: It's so weird. I have an older brother who is not really that interested in sports. It was my mom. She was a big Yankees fan. When I was a kid, she was always watching the Yankees games and I think I learned at a young age what channel the Yankees were on. So at like three years old, I would put them on because I knew my mom would want to watch them. I got into baseball and the Yankees that way. It slowly turned into basketball and then football. Sports is something great to be a fan of.

ESPN RISE: Are you a former athlete?
Ferrara: Well, I wouldn't say I was a former athlete (laughs). I played baseball, basketball, football, hockey. Whatever the season was, that's what I played. Sports was my whole childhood.

ESPN RISE: Did you have a favorite playground growing up where you played sports? New York City is obviously known for having famous ones, like Rucker Park.
Ferrara: Yeah, mine was actually the junior high school that I went to, which was a couple of blocks from where all my friends and I lived. It had a really great schoolyard. It had a little cement softball field, it had basketball courts, it had a handball court. It was our home court. In Brooklyn, every kind of neighborhood had their own little schoolyard, and that was their home court.

ESPN RISE: I know you spend a lot of time in LA now. Do you get a chance to come back to NYC often?
Ferrara: I have an apartment in Brooklyn and I try to get back whenever I can. My mom is still there, my brother, my nephew, my closest friends. I only get back there probably like four or five times a year. I'm a New Yorker, even though I've been in LA 10 years.

ESPN RISE: So let me ask you, where does LeBron end up next year?
Ferrara: Hopefully the Knicks. I don't want to jinx it and say he's definitely coming. But we need him in New York. The Knicks need some help.

ESPN RISE: Speaking of pro athletes, you played golf with Tom Brady in one of the episodes.
Ferrara: Yeah, he is pretty good at golf. He's just solid. He's consistent. I don't think he gets to play much obviously because he's a very, very busy guy. But he just has a natural swing.

ESPN RISE: Do you have a favorite course since you've gotten into golf?
Ferrara: I really like the Riviera Country Club out here in LA. They have the Los Angeles Open here. First of all, it's such a tough course. Whenever you par a hole, it feels like an eagle. And it just has so much history. The pros are fond of it.

ESPN RISE: What's one part of your game you're working on right now?
Ferrara: My driver, man. Everything else is kind of coming around. The short game's good, the putting's good, the irons are okay. But if I'm hitting the driver badly, I'm shooting terribly. If I'm hitting the driver well, I can shoot low 80's. So it really just comes down to the big dog for me.
Jerry Ferrera
Ferrara and company have been nominated for 24 Emmys and 12 Golden Globe awards.

ESPN RISE: I was going to ask you if you ever wanted to do one of those Celebrity Pro-Am tournaments, but you basically do that on the show playing with athletes.
Ferrara: I actually have. I won the Mercedes-Benz Championship in January (at the Kapalua Resort's Plantation Golf Course in Hawaii), which is one of the greatest courses I've ever seen. I was paired with Geoff Ogilvy and we came in first place. I didn't play particularly well, but I had three birdies.

ESPN RISE: You're known for rocking jerseys on "Entourage." Do you also wear them off the set?
Ferrara: I was big into jerseys when I was a kid, and as I grew up I kind of grew out of them a little bit. I don't wear jerseys or collect jerseys at all anymore. On the show, in the pilot episode of "Entourage," because my boss is a big Knicks fan as well, we had a Bernard King Knicks throwback jersey, which was one of the sickest jerseys I've ever seen. I actually don't have that one. Someone took it. I don't know who did. No one's admitted to it, but someone has that jersey, and it's not me.

ESPN RISE: What athletes have you enjoyed working with on the show?
Ferrara: Obviously Brady and LeBron are two of the biggest. We've actually had Jim Edmonds on the show, which was pretty cool. You've got to throw Michael Phelps up there obviously. He's ridiculous. We heard that he wanted to do the show before, and it didn't work out for so long. We were shooting in New York (in November 2008), he happened to be doing an interview where we were shooting. I think some of our assistant directors just went up to him and said, "Do you want to do a quick little cameo?" And he was like, "Yeah, sure."

ESPN RISE: What would be your dream athlete role in a movie?
Ferrara: Well, it's kind of tough because I don't really fit the mold of many athletes physically. I'm about 5'7". I would have to think about that. You know what? If we can go off of let's say past movies, a dream role for me, only because it kind of works physically and I love the movie so much, is "Rudy." It looked like Sean Astin had a really good time playing him.

ESPN RISE: Was acting something you thought about when you were younger?
Ferrara: I thought about it when I was younger, but where I'm from, it's not really a common trade to get into. It really all kind of started from just being such a big fan of movies at such a young age. All I wanted to do was watch movies. It was just an escape. It made me forget about certain things and it just made me happy. In high school, I never thought it was something I wanted to pursue. But when I got into college, I took an acting class only because I knew I always wanted to do it, but I never really even tried. And I absolutely loved it. I knew this is what I had to do.

ESPN RISE: Where did you go to college?
Ferrara: The College of Staten Island. You don't really think of that place for their theater department, but one of the best acting teachers/coaches I've ever seen, still to this day, is at that school, Norman Kruger. He's amazing.

ESPN RISE: Is acting an elective there?
Ferrara: Yeah. I was trying to get an easy A to show my mom, "Look, I'm not messing up that bad."

ESPN RISE: Do you remember your very first acting assignment in that class?
Ferrara: I did a monologue from "The Hustler" with Paul Newman. It was probably terrible (laughs).