LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor-director Adrian Grenier is best known as the charismatic lead star of HBO’s film industry satire “Entourage,” but behind the camera, the actor has found an edgier way to explore real-life issues, including producing a mock tutorial-style documentary on the war on drugs.
“How to Make Money Selling Drugs,” out in theaters this week, is billed as a 10-step guide to entering the drug trade from the ground up to the level of the cartels.
Grenier, 36, teamed up with director Matthew Cooke to executive-produce the documentary, which he said was intentionally a tongue-in-cheek analysis of the drug trade, intended to resonate with a younger audience.
“Documentaries don’t have the visibility that ‘Entourage’ has, which is why I thought we’d employ a little bit of the ‘Entourage’ language, a little bit of fun, tongue-in-cheek, the ironic aspirations. It is a fun movie and I hope we’re going to reach a new audience with how fun it is,” Grenier told Reuters.
Grenier has found a home on documentaries outside of his acting career, beginning with his own journey to reunite with his estranged father in 2002’s “Shot in the Dark.”
In 2010, he released “Teenage Paparazzo,” a look into the relationship of celebrity and paparazzi through the eyes of 14-year-old celebrity photographer Austin Visschedyk.
“I’ve always been a big fan of documentaries, they’re a fantastic way to explore ideas and learn about things in a narrative and curious kind of way,” Grenier said.
The mock ten-step tutorial in “How to Make Money Selling Drugs” starts at the bottom of the drug chain with street dealers, featuring interviews with those who deal illegal substances, often addicts themselves, who have served jail sentences after getting caught.
Many of the dealers interviewed in the film said the drug trade was their salvation from poverty and despair, detailing the money and luxuries they were able to afford with money earned from selling drugs.
The film also features celebrities including actors Susan Sarandon and Woody Harrelson, rappers 50 Cent and Eminem, and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, weighing in on the policies ruling the drug trade.
When asked if he was worried the film might glamorize the trade, Grenier said the film aimed to “shake people out of their expectations.”
“We expect documentaries to be boring and preachy and not fun, and then we go see movies that glamorize drugs ... We’re just speaking the language that people are used to,” he said.
“This is probably the most innocuous and ineffective tutorial on getting into the drug trade,” he added.
Grenier said he hoped the film would shed light on the “charming personalities” of the people in the trade, and not just portray them as “evil.”
“Those who think people who deal drugs are evil and should be locked away for as much time as possible, it’s not subtle enough for the reality of life. These are human beings with diverse reasons behind getting into the drug trade,” he said.
Editing by Eric Walsh