The English Jeremy Piven: A Look at His Performance in ‘Mr. Selfridge’

Boasting a stellar career in Hollywood, Jeremy Piven has acquired numerous accolades and widespread recognition for his acting prowess. While he is extensively celebrated for his role as Ari Gold on ‘Entourage’, his performance in ‘Mr. Selfridge’ allowed him to showcase his talent on a different stage altogether. In portraying Harry Gordon Selfridge, Piven crossed the pond and delivered an exceptional performance that revealed a different side of his acting repertoire — “The English Jeremy Piven.”

The Role: A Pioneer Retail Magnate

In ITV’s ‘Mr. Selfridge’, Piven delved into the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the flamboyant and ambitious American entrepreneur who revolutionized the British retail industry by creating the luxury London department store, Selfridges. Piven’s character is charismatic, visionary, and somewhat reckless, all attributes that the actor convincingly and effortlessly inhabited.

Taking on the British Drama: A New Challenge

For Jeremy Piven, shifting from Hollywood’s Ari Gold to Mr. Selfridge in turn-of-the-century London necessitated an entirely new approach. This historic period drama saw Piven not only mastering a nuanced character but also tackling an unmistakable English accent, a feat he successfully achieved. His performance introduced a more serious, determined Piven, far from the comedic roles he’d been known for.

Piven’s Performance: Capturing the Nuances

Piven impeccably encapsulated Selfridge’s larger-than-life character, presenting him as charming yet flawed. His portrayal was both sympathetic and condemning – painting a vivid picture of a man whose ambition led him to revolutionize retail but also ultimately led to his downfall.

Despite the drama being squarely focused on the Edwardian era, Piven’s rendition exhibited an enduring relevance. His delivery of Selfridge’s ambitions, dreams, and subsequent disillusionments resonated with modern audiences, making the period drama universally appealing.

Critical Accolades: More than Just an American Actor

Piven’s journey as Mr. Selfridge earned him significant acclaim from fans and critics alike. He was praised for his commitment to the character and for bringing a real depth and complexity to the role. His performance consolidated him as a versatile actor, equally adept at playing both comedic and dramatic characters.


Jeremy Piven’s portrayal of Harry Selfridge illuminated a different dimension of his acting ability: an English character within a British drama. The role was a departure from the more familiar, quick-witted American characters from his previous performances.

Despite facing the challenge of playing an English character, Piven proved himself to be a chameleonic talent who can take on varied roles with skill and ease. Through ‘Mr. Selfridge’, Piven demonstrated that he could navigate through personalities, periods, and even accents, solidifying his place as an accomplished actor in the international arena. His work in ‘Mr. Selfridge’ thus offers an intriguing look at the hidden depths of talent that this extraordinary actor possesses.

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