Making It: The Rob Weiss Way

Haute Living: What character do you identify with on the show and why?

Rob Weiss” I think I identify with every character on the show. And I’m pretty sure if you asked any of my partners, they would say the same thing. There are pieces of us in all of them. In my life, I’ve definitely had Ben’s insecurities, as well as his losses. I definitely identify with Cam’s spirit and his drive, and Luis Guzman’s desire to change himself and strive to do something greater, and being a boss and strong-willed.

HL: What do you believe your audience can learn?

RW: Well, hopefully if we do the denim business right, the audience will be able to start their own jean line after watching 80 to 90 episodes.

Seriously, I think that they will learn about life in New York. It’s a bit of a guide to being successful, a guide to surviving the biggest, probably toughest, but most-loving city in the entire world.

HL: As a native New Yorker who has been living in Hollywood for a long time, what most surprised you about New York City when you were scouting for locations?

RW: Nothing surprised me about New York City, that’s what’s so great about New York, because there are no shockers. You just know that it’s always evolving, always changing. No street ever looks the same way twice. I had no surprises. The city is a major character in the show, and it’s a character that doesn’t negotiate. You are going to take it for what it is. And it will allow you to shoot in it. It’s a living, breathing beast.

HL: How would you compare filming for HBO in New York to filming Entourage in Los Angeles?

RW: I think both situations are extremely similar. We’re capturing the local color and the flavor of the streets on both coasts. Entourage does the best job of anything I have seen shot in Los Angeles, truly uncovering one portion of L.A. life, which is a more polished glossy version of Los Angeles, but it does a phenomenal job of really showing that and exploring that aspect and lifestyle.

Comparatively, in New York City, we cast a wider scope of how to make it in America. There’re highs and lows. We go uptown and downtown. The West Coast show is a tremendous lifestyle showcase. And it is definitely a postcard for why to visit L.A.

HL: How do you perceive that the show will inspire struggling young entrepreneurs to pursue a path to glory?

RW: It’s not a secret that when you profile and model yourself after people who have inspired you, there are valuable lessons you can learn from watching them. There are some great filmmakers, producers, and writers who came before me who I looked up to; even if I don’t know them on a personal level, just knowing their work and their stories helped shape and mold my own personal path and journey.

So I would imagine that if we do the show right and we really do explore the realities of what its like to be an entrepreneur in New York or a hustler in New York—someone who is trying to produce a denim line or distribute an energy drink, or be an interior designer, or an architect, or a hedge-fund trader on Wall Street—anything that we try to explore, hopefully we are going to bring the element of truth to it, and people can learn from it. Maybe people watching the show can see things that they would be interested in doing or not doing. Maybe there are some cautionary tales, and maybe there are some moments of inspiration as well. I think that’s the trick to the show, to make something that’s ground level not so super-wish fulfillment, but is incredibly aspirational. To make the journey look fun, to make the struggle look fun, has always been something we wanted to do with it. We wanted to have the guys struggle and have a good time doing it.

The old adage is, the journey is the destination, and if you look at your life like that, you can’t really ever have a bad time. Despite some massive hardships and set backs you may encounter along the way, you always find your way back.