"It's a go. Love you all." That was the tweet heard round the world last October when Entourage creator Doug Ellin confirmed that his beloved TV show was finally coming to the movie theaters following years of intense speculation. And with filming finally set to start next week, beloved series mainstay Jerry Ferrara – that's Turtle to you and the guys – has plenty to share. "When I look back on the show – and I've been doing that a lot recently – it plays like a time capsule, a formative period in these guys' lives," he says. "Now that we're ready to start shooting, the one thing that I've thought about over and over again is success. That's one of the most powerful things anyone can go through. So how much does it change you?" From his memories of filming alongside Gary Busey – "I'm not going to lie, I was intimidated and very afraid knowing that I had a scene with him" – to what it was really like inside that bunny suit, Ferrara traces Turtle's wild rise from second fiddle to financial magnate. —Blaine McEvoy
"There's definitely some of me in Turtle. I always think there's at least 10 percent of yourself in every character: I'd like to believe there's at least 10 percent of Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln, even if that may not be the truth since he's the robot of acting and on another planet. So I've always taken the approach of living though [Turtle]. I don't have the freedom of speech that he has. He just speaks his mind with no filter at all. And that's how I've always played it. It's about loyalty. If you don't buy the friendship between these four guys, then you're not going to tolerate them talking about women the way that they do or watch a movie star pay $20,000 for a pair of sneakers. In the early years, diehards were screaming for evolution: 'When are these guys going to grow up?' But it really didn't matter if they made it – they were always going to ride together. Turns out it was one fucking crazy ride."
"[Creator] Doug [Ellin] always found the most unique cameos, everyone from Gary Busey to Bob Saget and Jason Patrick to Eric Roberts. I remember Busey coming in and the first words out of his mouth were, 'I'm not going to give you your words – I'm going to give you the truth.' That set that bar. We all thought, 'What are we in for?' And I really didn't know. I knew Gary's work and I knew he could be intense sometimes, but I didn't know the commitment that he would have. Anyway, there's a famous scene, for Entourage fans anyway, where he baptizes me by pouring ice water over my head. But in between takes, he was tickling me to see if that would make me pee. It got to the point where he actually bruised my rib. I had to finally look at him and say, 'Gary, I'm a grown man. Stop tickling me. Please.' But once we finished, he went into a whole different mode. Still, I thought, 'Are you playing yourself? Or just another character?' And sure that's unique and beautiful. But it's also terrifying at times."
"'I made Jess Mancini ride her bike home after I ass-fucked her' – what a line! If I had to put a number on it, I'd say 95% of the words you heard on TV were scripted. There's just such a rhythm to the show – those rapid-fire scenes when it's just one shot of the four guys walking with zero cuts. It's almost like a play in a way. Sometimes I tried improving the preamble or near the end of a scene. But I never felt the need to put anything on top of the scene itself."
"I'm a little square, so my reaction to the bunny suit was, 'Wait, is this real? People actually do this?' Then I was shown a documentary about furries. If I'm being honest, I wasn't thrilled to be in that suit. But I knew it'd be one of those things that would either be hilarious or fall flat on its face. Thankfully Kevin Dillon really helped sell that storyline. You could always do that through his character – of course Johnny Drama knows all about furries and what they do. Now I post that on Instagram every year. That's my Easter photo, me in the bunny suit."
"I'm not going to lie, I'm a pretty good driver. But that wasn't always the case. I was only 23 when the show started, and in one of the earliest scenes I'm driving a Hummer – that giant yellow monstrosity of a car – around this winding driveway that went all the way up to the front steps of the house we were living in at the time. As the scene starts, I'm going really slow. And the director kept saying, 'Can you go a little faster?' Sure enough, I drove over the curb and popped a tire. I actually popped three more over the years. There was another scene where Jamie-Lynn Sigler's character gives me a Porsche – I popped a tire on that. I also popped one on the silver Maserati. Oh! And there's another scene that was almost a disaster where Kevin Dillon and I are racing through Beverly Hills trying to beat one another to a meeting with Ari. As we pulled up to the restaurant, I almost rear-end him so bad that it might have killed him. That could have ended the show."
"I got to do so many things on this show. The first time I ever left the country was because of this show – we went to Cannes to shoot an episode. The first time I went to Sundance, the first time I drove a Ferrari, the first time I sat courtside a Lakers game. . . so many 'firsts' that I wouldn't have gotten to do anywhere else. I'm just a meathead from Brooklyn! But if I had to give them a ranking, I'd say this track scene is definitely up there. The first time I ever drove stick was on the California Speedway, which I think is a pretty cool way to learn how to drive stick. I remember there being a rule that we had to stay under 60 miles per hour. You might as well be walking. You might as well get into a Honda Accord. I'd like to say we abided by that, but we absolutely didn't. I mean how many times are we going to be on a track in four Ferraris and we're not going to get arrested?"
"I just ran to get a coffee in Beverly Hills. And I'm right where we sat with 50 Cent – literally right at the light where he pulls up next to me. Some of those cameos, I always say it like this: I was looking at the call sheet one day and we had Sydney Pollack doing a cameo at 11:00 and Kanye West coming in for the same episode at 3:00. I saved that, because how often are you going to see Kanye West and Sydney Pollack on the same piece of paper? Listen, I love Bob Saget. I see him all the time. And I made a great bond with Jason Patric – we sing Beatles karaoke together at the same bar. It's ridiculous when I look through my phone sometimes, seeing the numbers I got through Entourage. But my favorite cameo – just because it really legitimized a huge part of the show – was James Cameron. I have this running joke where I tell people that I worked with him. 'We did a scene together,' I say. 'He never directed me, but we've acted together.' That's probably the closest I'll ever get to working with him."
"One of the main things about Turtle now is that he's on his own. So what does he do? The most charming part about the movie is that it's very much a throwback to the early seasons when the guys were together, all four of them, with a single storyline affecting them all. And that's the charm of it. Whatever Turtle's sitting on, however many millions he's made, he'd probably still live with Vince. It's interesting to see a guy who never had any desire to make anything of himself and finally does at a later age. I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Success is one of the most powerful things any man or woman can go through. So how does it change you? Does it change you at all? I've seen the things that success can do to a person. And it's scary in the wrong hands."