Mr Selfridge star, Jeremy Piven, is a Downton Abbey fan and Prince Harry calls him Ari!

by Anna Howell

Star of the new hit ITV period drama Mr Selfridge, Jeremy Piven has admitted that he is a fan of the shows main rival, Downton Abbey!

Mr Selfridge burst on to our screens earlier this year telling the story of the famous London department store, Selfridges & Co, and the antics of its illusive owner, Harry Selfridge.

The show has received much critical acclaim, and has found a place in the hearts of the Great British public, making it one of the year’s biggest success stories so far.

However, Jeremy Piven the actor who plays the flamboyant and ever-so-slightly eccentric Harry Selfridge, has admitted to being a fan of its rival period drama, Downton Abbey!

Speaking to the Sun newspaper, the American revealed:

“I have to say I love England. It was a dream for me to get this job and work over here. I’m a boy from Chicago in the States so the whole experience was amazing.

“I’m a huge fan of British period drama. The first one I ever saw was Colin Firth in Pride And Prejudice [which was adapted for TV by Mr Selfridge writer Andrew Davies] and ever since then I was hooked. I absolutely love Downton Abbey so when this part came through I was just so happy – and what a role!

“The first day I arrived in London I turned on the television and Othello was on. Zoë Tapper, who I knew was set to play my mistress in Mr Selfridge, was actually starring in it as Desdemona.

“I couldn’t believe it. Not only did I get to see my co-star act before I’d even met her, but I was in a country where it was normal to have Shakespeare on TV. It took my breath away.”

With regards to the huge fan following he has received since starring in Mr Selfridge, many of who are calling Piven the sex symbol of 2013, the actor laughed:

“Sex symbol – are you kidding? “I’ve never been called that before and I don’t think people seriously believe it… Maybe they’re just being kind. I don’t think it can actually be true.”

Before Mr Selfridge Piven was best known for playing Hollywood agent Ari Gold (whose catchphrase was: “Let’s hug it out, bitch”) in the hit US series Entourage, which Piven explains is quite a contrast to his new character, Mr Selfridge:

“Harry is happy and upbeat. The real Mr Selfridge had incredible energy and I kept his energy levels with me while filming. He always smiled, so I did too.”

But it seems that he is unable to shake the legacy of Entourage, as even the royal Princes, Harry and William called him Ari when meeting him, Piven explained:

“That was completely overwhelming,” he admits. “In America, obviously we don’t have royalty, so you have absolutely no knowledge of how to behave in a situation like that. But the Princes were both so nice.

“Prince Harry kept calling me Ari because he’s a big Entourage fan. I was totally flattered. They were really curious and asked lots of questions about me. I can see why they are so popular over here because they are such good guys. I’m hoping next time they might call me Harry.”

Watch Jeremy Piven’s Jonathan Ross interview in the clip below: