Adrian Grenier, the heartthrob star of the hit television series “Entourage”, had a gaping mystery most of his life -- he didn’t know who his father was.
But long before he shot to fame with his portrayal of Vincent Chase on “Entourage”, a show about the hangers-on of a rising celebrity in Hollywood, Grenier turned the camera on himself.
Armed with barely any money, but with an idea and good friend Jon Davidson by his side, he set out to find his father, a man he had not seen in 18 years and knew little about.
He eventually found John Dunbar, and he found that he could now put to rest his childhood.
The product of his curiosity turned into “Shot in the Dark”, a documentary that took seven years to finish and had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on the weekend.
While Grenier puts his raw emotions of a highly personal journey onto the big screen, he thinks of it as more of a public service to help others in similar situations.
“I’m sort of a vehicle for a story. I think I am really a humble servant because I allowed myself to be vulnerable so that people might feel more comfortable or might discover things about their own history and family,” he told Reuters in an interview.
“We all share our own stories and each other’s stories, find relevance in each other’s lives. I think sharing stories is an age-old thing and this is just in a movie theater, not around a campfire.”
Parents met at a communeInterviews with his family along the way yielded different accounts of how his mother and father broke up. They had met at a commune in the seventies, but never married. Their brief encounter is where Grenier finds inspiration for his pun of a movie title.
Grenier was also surprised at how easy it was to convince his family to take part in his project.
“I think everybody wanted this to happen,” he said. ”Everybody wanted to resolve it, find some sort of closure so they were very open to me making that effort and making the gesture to do that.”
His first conversation with his father was unexpected. Grenier had phoned his grandparents, but his father came on the line instead. And it turned out to be a surprisingly emotional moment.
“I intended to be detached, objective, aloof. He kind of forced my hand by picking up the phone. It was a beautiful accident. It sort of forced me to have a real sentimental moment which was totally against what I was trying to do,” he said. “I didn’t want to have any emotions, but I did.”
When Grenier finally stands face-to-face with his father, he is asked, “How do I look?”
“You look like a man,” was Grenier’s answer in the film.
“That’s what he was to me,” Grenier said. “Since then he’s become more than that.”
After the initial awkwardness of that first meeting, the two spend some time together on camera -- playing guitar, shooting pool, boating, going bowling.
The pair haven’t suddenly closed the gap of so many lost years, or created any Father’s Day traditions, but see each other once or twice a year.
The documentary is expected to air on HBO in and around Father’s Day 2007.