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Polished Edge: Jeremy Piven of ‘Mr. Selfridge’ on PBS
Q: As Harry Selfridge, you play a man who revolutionized shopping. What do you think about to get inside his head?
A: He was in love with what he does and his family and makes everyone in a room feel special. And 100 years later, Selfridge’s was voted the best store in the world. Cosmetics are when you walk in. No one was doing that. He loved women and wanted to create a safe haven for them that didn’t exist anywhere.
Q: Yes, he recognized that was a potential gold mine. What other major changes did he make?
A: In Marshall Field’s he implemented huge windows. Marshall Field’s wouldn’t make him a partner, and failure was not an option. He wanted that recognition and said, “All right, I am taking it on the road, and I’ll prove myself on my own.” He really did it. He created a special ambience where people could come and feel valued and spend time.
Q: Your parents run a theater program. What was their most valuable advice?
A: They didn’t talk in cliches. Both are very different; my father is brutally honest, and my mother would find a way to celebrate your work. It is the perfect yin and yang symbol. It’s about taking it seriously. I acted with them, and they led by example. And they were totally committed while onstage. And coming from a theater background and working with a British cast, many who are theater trained, I didn’t feel like an outsider.
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