Jordan Belfi’s acting career skyrocketed when he was offered the role of Adam Davies in HBO’s TV show Entourage. As his character progressed from a young and inexperienced agent to the nemesis for Jeremy Priven’s unshakeable character Ari Gold, Jordan became a recognizable face of the hit show.
The Untitled Magazine asked the actor some questions about his new movies Pawn, The Millionaire Tour and an upcoming appearance on Grey’s Anatomy. His new movie, Chlorine, was released March 17 in the UK, and he plays opposite Kyra Sedgwick and Vincent D’Onofrio. The film centers around a family struggling to maintain their well-to-do lifestyle in their overly materialistic New England community.
The Untitled Magazine: How did you get into acting?
I’ve been obsessed with cinema as long as I can remember. And acting was a vital part of the storytelling involved with cinema. As a kid I was making movies wrangling all the other kids from the neighborhood, I was reading plays introduced to me by my dad, and I began working professionally doing a number of commercials and a handful of films. I was a film major at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, while also simultaneously performing in and directing shows in the theater. I directed my senior thesis film, in which I also played the lead, and when I returned to LA after graduating, that film was passed around and seen and got me started. I then began to build my career.
How long would you consider yourself to have been in “the business?”
All told, I’ve been working in the industry about 17 years.
Can you pinpoint your breakthrough moment?
Being cast in and then playing the role of ‘Adam Davies’ for 6 seasons on HBO’s Entourage. Working on a show for a network with the prestige of HBO was special – the freedom they give to the creators of their shows to execute their vision results in series that have a unique voice, and thus interesting, powerful content. Entourage was top-tier filmmaking at every level – the writing, performing, directing, verite-style cinematography. My character grew from one episode in the first season into becoming the nemesis for Jeremy Piven’s ‘Ari Gold’ – becoming one of the few characters on the show who knew how to get under the unshakeable Ari Gold’s skin. It was that role that pushed my career to a new level. It was the role where people began to take notice and recognize my work. As wild and exaggerated for effect as the show at times was, it had an absolute foundation of truth, and everyone in the industry was watching it. And that truth, almost scary truth – the things Adam would say and Ari would do, and the delicious interplay between them – was why it was such a visceral experience for so many in the industry, and fun for audiences who weren’t in the industry. I’m both grateful for, and cognizant of, how rare and special a thing it is to be a part of a show that becomes embedded into the cultural lexicon in the way that the show was – where people on the street would literally quote my lines back to me. It was such a tangible example of the tremendous reach of the medium, and of people being affected by, and enjoying your work.
What made you decide to pursue a career in acting?
Actors are surveyors of the human experience. They are storytellers who use their bodies to move audiences to laugh and cry and think and feel by giving them a dual experience – by telling a story about an individual human experience, they are simultaneously identifying and illuminating the common denominators as to what makes us human. That form of expression is vital to me.
This is a tough one, but do you have a favorite movie?
It always feels like such an impossible task to try and narrow it down to a single movie. But one of my favorite films of all time is Luc Besson’s The Professional. It has everything in it that I love about movies – moving drama, intensely cinematic visual style, action, moments of comedy, richly drawn characters and relationships, and remarkable performances. Otto Preminger’s lost film Bunny Lake is Missing and Hitchcock’s Rear Window are close behind, the latter in so many ways being the very definition of cinema – we as moviegoers are Jimmy Stewart, ultimate voyeurs, staring with him through his camera across the courtyard into the windows/movie screens of people’s lives.
What about a favorite actor or actress?
I am inspired and influenced by an extraordinary number of different actors. I have always admired Gary Oldman. He morphs into each character he plays, and is almost unrecognizable role to role. His performance in The Professional, one of the films I referenced above, is so incredibly rich, and horrifying, and colorful, and is simultaneously both grand and incredibly specific. I really admire it.
And if you could be any other actor, who would it be?
I wouldn’t want to be any other actor, but there are actors whose career trajectories I sincerely admire. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dustin Hoffman, and Al Pacino moved from roles as young men, through roles as adults, to roles as older men. Their careers have spanned decades and decades, and their performances have become richer and richer as they’ve moved through the different phases of their careers. They’ve all also moved seamlessly back and forth between the stage and and the screen. Most specifically, I have tremendous admiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s trajectory into one of cinema’s leading men, for the specific reason that when one steps back and considers his career, he has now made films as a leading man with, in my opinion, a stunning number of the greatest living directors – Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Danny Boyle, and Baz Luhrmann. Making that many films with filmmakers that great is truly inspiring.
If things had gone differently, and you had ended up in a different career, what do you think you’d be doing??
As cliche as it may sound, quite simply, I’d be directing. Acting and directing are two sides of the same coin. They’re storytelling. There are few things that allow me to take my thoughts, ideas, life experiences, and skills and channel them into creating something that illuminates or reflects some part of the story of the human condition – to make someone think, laugh, cry, or be entertained. It’s what I love to do the most.
Do you have a motto or words of wisdom you live by?
I take my work seriously, but try to never take myself seriously.
Who would you name as a favorite designer?
I like Simon Spurr. I’ve worn his suits to premieres and events. There’s nothing quite like a perfectly cut and well tailored suit, and his suits just feel like they are made for me. Fine fabrics, interesting detail – fashion forward while still classic and elegant. Most days however, I’m put together, but super relaxed. Solid pair of fitted jeans, well-fitted crew or v-neck t-shirt. A good pair of black boots are indispensable. Nice watch. Every once in a while a relaxed scarf. And my motorcycle-style leather jacket can dress up or dress down almost anything.
What is it about cinema that really makes you tick?
It’s the most complex medium there is. There is nothing else that weaves together the sheer number of other art forms into one singular piece of art – performance, directing, writing, photography, music, sound, art direction, costume design, editing, and on and on. It has a distinct type of magic. I am an incredibly visual person, and cinema by definition is a visual medium – the heart of movies is telling story through pictures, and my capacity for wonder and being emotionally swept away by the magic of weaving together sound and music and picture has always felt limitless.
Do you have a favorite artist, contemporary or otherwise?
I have been fascinated by performance artist Marina Abrmovic for some time. I saw her at the MOMA in New York a few years ago in her performance entitled “The Artist is Present”. It was a transformative experience. In the piece, she sat in a chair looking down in silence, and museum guests, one by one, could sit in a single chair across from her. She would then look up at them, and they could stare into her eyes. She did this for 90 days. What would happen to people as they sat in silence looking into her eyes, the swelling, transformative emotion that would pour out of them, all in silence, as other museum guests looked on, was breathtaking. She was engaging with and challenging her audience in a way I had not quite seen before – it was both so simple and simultaneously so overwhelmingly powerful and radical. I have heard her say that “the hardest thing is doing something that’s close to nothing, because it demands all of you.” I was moved and affected by the piece, and as with so much of her work, I felt challenged to question the relationship between artist and audience, and thus the very nature and definition of performance.
Is there anyone you consider to be a mentor figure to you?
There was no one more important to me in this regard than my father. It was his instincts and ability to perform, his deftness with language, his humor and wit, his insight into story, and his way with people that I learned from, absorbed, and now informs and colors so much of how I do what I do. Although he never had the opportunity to perform at the level that I have, I feel that in a way, through me, he now has.
What are your current projects of note?
My upcoming films are Pawn with Michael Chiklis and Forrest Whitaker, Chlorine opposite Kyra Sedgwick and Vincent D’Onofrio, and The Millionaire Tour opposite Dominic Monaghan (from Lord of the Rings). Also, recently shooting character arc on Grey’s Anatomy.
What, in your opinion, are your most notable film/tv/theatre credits?
Entourage, Surrogates, Moonlight, Grey’s Anatomy, Hawaii 5-0, Bones.
Photography by Anna Cone for The Untitled Magazine
Coverage by The Untitled Magazine