The ''Entourage'' star changes it up to play famed American-born department store magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge

By Clark Collis
Updated March 30, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

What is it about Jeremy Piven that screams ”salesman”? After purveying talent as formidable agent Ari Gold on HBO’s Entourage, the actor will star as a real-life department-store owner on the British drama series Mr. Selfridge, which is set to start filming in the U.K. later this spring. Piven will play the Wisconsin-born Harry Gordon Selfridge, who in 1909 opened the famed London store that still bears his name, and who is said to have come up with the expression ”The customer is always right.” Says Piven, ”He was a fascinating character. He took a page out of P.T. Barnum‘s book in terms of advertising and being really aggressive.” The 10-episode show, which will air on ITV and has yet to be shopped to American networks, has a prestigious behind-the-scenes team headed by creator Andrew Davies (Bleak House, Little Dorrit) and director Jon Jones (the forthcoming Julian Fellowes-penned miniseries Titanic). It all sounds a long way from Entourage‘s Ari, whose catchphrase was ”Hug it out, bitch.” And Piven’s well aware that a pedigreed British drama is a departure for him as an actor. ”Maybe they got the wrong Jeremy,” he deadpans. ”I’ll get there and they’ll go, ‘No, no, we meant Irons.’ I don’t care, I’m going anyway.”