Brooklyn native Jerry Ferrara shot to fame playing Turtle on the HBO hit “Entourage.” But he didn’t know the show was such a cultural force until a car crash.
The series launched in 2004, and during its first season, it netted positive media coverage but Jerry said the actors were still relatively unknown. However, between the first and second seasons, HBO made its shows available to watch on demand.
“Every college kid who went back to school in September found ‘Entourage’ on demand,” Jerry told me on this week’s “Renaissance Man.” “So we took a jump from Season 1 to Season 2 where our numbers went through the roof … I remember being on like Sunset Boulevard, we were shooting … People are starting to shout our characters’ names. And then we caused the accident on Sunset because people were looking at us shooting and you heard, boom! Big accident. We turned around, we made sure everybody was all right, but it was kind of cool. Luckily it was a fender bender.”
His career has been banging since. But his early days in the business weren’t exactly glamorous.
Jerry was inspired to act because he loved television and film, particularly “Martin” and (no relation) Martin Scorsese movies. He left Brooklyn, where he grew up on L&B pizza, the Yankees, Giants and Knicks, for Los Angeles with $1,000 and no car. He worked in “every restaurant in the San Fernando Valley” and landed bit parts. Then one day he was in a 7-Eleven parking lot and his phone rang with a life-changing call.
“It was Doug Ellin, creator of [‘Entourage’], and I answered. I didn’t even know him like that. And that’s back before caller ID. So he says, ‘It’s Doug. You got the part. We start shooting in a week.’ Click. I was just frozen in that parking lot. I remember I called my mom and my mom’s first thing was like, ‘They’re going to give you health insurance, right?’”
Since then, he has been in “Lone Survivor” and “Think Like a Man,” and played Joe Proctor on Starz’s “Power,” where he was directed by 50 Cent, whom he first met on the set of “Entourage.” The Queens-born rapper and mogul did a cameo that was actually written for Kobe Bryant.
“It was in-season [of the NBA], so you’d know better than I. Kobe was not doing anything outside of basketball in-season.” 50 Cent replaced Kobe, appearing in a scene where Turtle’s driving a Ferrari and Fiddy pulls up and laughs.
“I don’t know if he didn’t like the car we [had for him, but] he shipped his own car out from New York to LA, just for the two-hour shoot … That car in ‘Entourage’ — that’s his car from New York that he shipped out.”
Jerry is now co-hosting BetMGM’s podcast “Unleashed,” which has given him, a father of two, a free pass to watch sports whenever he wants.
“I’m just always looking for an excuse to talk sports. I can’t help myself. On Sunday, we got the two kids running around. I get to say to my wife, like, ‘I got to watch these games for work.’”
And talk sports he will do. When asked for his top NYC athletes, he went with Eli Manning, Derek Jeter, John Starks and Plaxico Burress. Though he’s awfully fond of new Giants head coach Brian Daboll for his vibes and his collection of Jordans.
“I’m the luckiest dude in the world,” Jerry said. And I have to agree: He’s made a sweet life for himself. Not bad for a dude called Turtle.
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA, before transitioning into a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He executive produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book, “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker, and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.
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