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He also had a supporting role in the cult-favorite Cusack teen romance, Say Anything , in 1989.A year later he appeared in The Grifters , and had a small role in The Player in 1992, both of which were Oscar-nominated films.It was the first industry honor the actor had ever won, though he had, according to Time 's Joel Stein, "made a career of playing supercharged supporting characters as if he were Al Pacino on a leash.His talent is being big and real simultaneously." Piven was born in New York City in 1965, but he and his sister, Shira, grew up in Evanston, Illinois."I think any other experience would've been weird….I just assumed that everyone had a theater that they could go to, where they could improvise, do short stories, Chekhov, Salinger." Though Piven also spent some summers at a performing-arts camp in Wisconsin, as he grew older his enthusiasm for drama cooled, and he devoted his energies to football.There was also a three-year stint on Ellen De Generes' sitcom as her cousin, Spence, out of which Piven was offered his own hour-long series on ABC, Cupid , which debuted in the fall of 1998.He starred as Trevor Hale, the deity whose mission is to play matchmaker for a hundred couples before he can find true love himself on Earth.
"Piven gives the sort of motormouth wise-guy performance that sometimes makes you want to slap his smirky little face," wrote Entertainment Weekly 's Ken Tucker, who nevertheless deemed the series a "charming" one, both "lively and funny." Cupid , however, was relegated to one of the worst prime-time slots of the week, Saturday evening, and the network failed to renew it for a second season.
He played for Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, but also signed up for a drama class in his first year of college, and it was there he "realized how unbelievably lucky I was to have had the kind of training I had," he told Jenelle Riley in an interview for Back Stage West .
"I was a freshman, getting lead roles in plays, just from auditioning.
Actor Jeremy Piven spent nearly 20 years of his career in supporting roles, and though he was a familiar face to movie-goers, was never considered a box-office draw.
His fortunes, however, improved immensely when he began playing Ari Gold, the caustic Hollywood agent on the hit HBO series Entourage , and won an Emmy for his second season in the role in 2006.