You might think the man who plays “Mr. Selfridge” would get special treatment when he goes shopping at Selfridges.
Apparently, that’s not the case.
Jeremy Piven, who plays Harry Selfridge in the early 20th century, has gone into the iconic London department store a couple of times. But in a hat and glasses, he didn’t look quite like the dapper Mr. Selfridge.
“I was kind of under the radar,” Piven said, “but there were a lot of double takes. And then when I went to go buy something, I was really expecting them to treat me well.
“And then when I went to go buy something, I think the one person who hadn’t see the show was helping me.”
He wasn’t complaining. On the contrary, Piven said he couldn’t be happier about his experience on “Mr. Selfridge,” which airs on both sides of the Atlantic — on PBS’ “Masterpiece” in the United States. And he’s happier about Season 2, which starts Sunday, than he was about Season 1.
“I’m not just saying this, but I think it’s the best season of TV I’ve ever done in my life,” he said, “and I’ve been doing it for a few decades.”
In addition to umpteen guest-starring roles, Piven has starred or co-starred in “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Ellen,” “Cupid” and “Entourage.” His “Entourage” role — talent agent Ari Gold — was career-defining. Until, perhaps, he landed the role of Harry Selfridge.
“His real life was like a Greek tragedy,” Piven said. “I mean, it’s just incredible and it’s one of the things that originally attracted me to this project.”
The second season of “Mr. Selfridge” picks up five years after the end of Season 1.
“Certainly what attracted me first of all to Lindy Woodhead’s book [‘Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge’] was just this incredible story of this man who was almost sort of Shakespearean in his kind of tragic trajectory,” said executive producer Kate Lewis, “so I think you need to move forward.”
As Season 2 begins, Harry and the store are hugely successful, but his personal life isn’t going so well. His estranged wife, Rose (Frances O’Connor), is visiting, but she’s not ready to forgive Harry for his philandering.
Most of the large cast returns, along with a few additions, and there are all sorts of things going on. Plus, England is headed quickly toward the outbreak of World War I, which will change all their lives.
“One of the beautiful things about doing a series is that you get to continuously explore these characters and their relationships,” Piven said.
He somewhat unexpectedly got to revisit Ari when the “Entourage” movie got the greenlight.
“Listen, we did eight seasons of ‘Entourage’ and the script is really good,” Piven said. “And I really had left him behind and was embracing — am embracing this entire journey. So it will require me to be a little bit schizophrenic, but that’s what we do.”
Season 2 of “Mr. Selfridge” begins today, at 8 p.m. on PBS/Channel 7.