Entourage movie 'not misogynistic'
"I feel like there's been a weird backlash from the critics. I find it laughable," says Entourage creator and the movie's director, Doug Ellin.
Ellin, who is also behind the film's script, is referring to the disappointing reviews that the big screen instalment of the HBO show has received.
The movie picks up where the eighth season hit series left off when it wrapped in 2011. The comedy-drama tells the story of movie star Vincent Chase, his actor half-brother Johnny Drama, manager Eric "E", and driver-turned-entrepreneur, Turtle .
The series saw the posse relocate from Queen's to Los Angeles, where Vince is represented by explosive super agent Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven, who describes him as "an equal opportunity offender - he offends everyone around him."
The film's plot turns to Vince's decision to direct as well as star in a new movie that will also be Ari's first venture as studio chief.
The series was considered by many to be a male fantasy with the gang hanging out on super yachts and private jets, driving fast cars and dating super models - themes that continue to dominate throughout the movie, to the frustration of some critics.
Brandon Judell, of The Huffington Post, remarks that the movie "appears to have been conceived by a gaggle of misogynistic, beer-chugging adolescent virgins who brag about getting laid".
But Emmanuelle Chriqui, who plays the movie's lead female character, E's on-off girlfriend Sloane, says "the depiction of the bikini-clad women and hangers-on is real."
"Obviously this has come up a lot, and it's interesting for me to respond to it because I totally consider myself to be a feminist."
"Hollywood is a very sexist place where we as women are objectified a lot. To act, in the movie, like that doesn't exist would be absurd."
She adds that the key female roles in the show - studio executive Dana Gordon, publicist Shauna Roberts, Gold's domineering wife Melissa and herself - are "strong, intelligent, ballsy and fierce women."
Piven remarks: "I can't control the fact that women were throwing themselves at Vinny Chase as do women with movie stars in Hollywood. It's out there."
After the 2008 market crash and subsequent recession, critics have also been quick to dismiss the gang's lavish lifestyle as somewhat dated, or crass.
"You could accuse it of glamorising the shallow hedonism it depicts, but that charge would only stick if the movie had any genuine flair, romance or imagination," says A O Scott of the New York Times.
But Ellin says that "you can't adjust a movie star's life based on the economy. The truth is, their lives don't change."
"Through all the recessions, people have always wanted escapist entertainment. These characters came from modest means and they are enjoying their success. It is something to aspire to."
Kevin Connolly, who plays "E", is also quick to point out that Entourage should be taken as "a heightened reality… we never wanted to be too political. We just wanted to have fun."
Four years have passed since the team were all together last but Kevin Dillon, whose character Johnny Drama gets a big break starring in the new movie that his brother is directing, says that as soon as they started running lines filming "was a breeze".
Jerry Ferrara's Turtle, who became a millionaire at the end of the TV series with stocks in a successful tequila brand, has a love interest in Ultimate Fighting Champion Ronda Rousey. "I was scared for you," jokes Dillon about Ferrara getting in the fighting ring for a physical scene with Rousey.
"I just thought there was something about her that had an amazing star quality," says Ellin, on the casting choice. "She's beautiful and can obviously kill everybody too!"
Rousey is one of a plethora of big name cameos including Pharrell Williams, Liam Neeson, Tom Brady, Kelsey Grammer and Jessica Alba, who Ellin points out appear in the movie for free - "they come because they're fans and they like it."
Despite the movie under performing at the US Box Office - it came in fourth in its opening weekend, bringing in just $10.4m - talk of a movie sequel is positive, with all cast members declaring their interest, bar one.
Piven's performance as Ari Gold has received the most praise from critics but he is reluctant to commit.
'Created a monster'
"You have to know when to leave the fair. I really tried to move on from this, especially to do Mr Selfridge.
"I thought this movie's script was so good that it would be fun to go back and investigate it, but I didn't miss playing Ari at all. Not for an instant. Even if I stumbled upon it on television, I wouldn't watch it."
This, he says, is in part down to the characterisation of his uber-offensive movie mogul, which conflicts with Piven's Jewish-Buddhist belief system.
"Having confidence and a distinct purpose (like Ari) is beautiful, but to treat people badly and to dress them down is not something that I would teach anyone to do.
"I feel like I've created a monster. I'm not inspired by him at all."