April 14, 2014 at 11:38 AM ET
Jeremy Piven's Harry Selfridge character in "Masterpiece's" "Mr. Selfridge" series is about as far from his "Entourage" agent Ari Gold as an actor can get. But Piven can make both work because he, as he noted with amusement on TODAY Monday, is a "thespian."
"When you're in England you're a thespian," joked TODAY's Kathie Lee Gifford. "You're just an actor over here."
Piven said a lot of people still have a hard time separating him from Gold, who he characterized as a "jerk, an abrasive man, if you will." He noted, "When you play him for eight seasons and you're in people's living rooms ... if you play him in an authentic way people think that that's indeed who you are."
These days, though, Piven is playing a more gentle soul in Selfridge, a real-life Wisconsin-born American who in 1909 founded the London department store that still bears his name today.
Selfridge, however, had his own issues. "It's a great life lesson that if you put everything you have into your career and you don't pay attention to your relationships, it won't end well for you," said Piven.
Not so for the actor, who continues to be very busy. The "Entourage" movie has recently finished filming, and Gifford and Hoda Kotb cheered his work.
"L'chaim!" he chuckled in acknowledgement of the upcoming Passover holiday. "On the day of my people."
"Mr. Selfridge" airs on PBS at 9 p.m. Sundays.