We all know and love Adrian Grenier as Vinny Chase in HBO's "Entourage", and if you don't, then you must recognize him from his cameo in Britany Spears' "You Drive Me Crazy" music video. While Grenier has laid low on the big screen, it's for a good reason that we all need to pay attention to.
After creating the Lonely Whale in 2015 to inspire people to take action in protecting our ocean environment, Grenier was named the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador in 2017. With World Environment Day falling today on June 5, we spoke to Adrian Grenier exclusively to discuss everything from using his voice to advocate for reducing plastic use, protecting our marine life -- and which celebrity friends are helping him along the way.
AOL: Can you pinpoint a specific memory when it really hit you that you needed to bring awareness and become such a positive voice for the environment?
Adrian Grenier: I was lucky to grow up with a mother who instilled love for our shared environment early on.
Can you share a little bit of what inspired you to start the Lonely Whale?
I was inspired to found Lonely Whale alongside my producing partner Lucy Sumner with the hope that we could create empathy for our ocean, connecting those that never even have the opportunity to see the ocean to find new ways to connect. If you can't connect you can't care, and the oceans have so much need for our attention and our compassion and our empathy.
In your speech at last year’s World Environment Day at the United Nations, you said, “A lot of people know me from the roles that I’ve played on TV and in the movies, but the most important role I play is the role of one single human being - one citizen.” Can you expand a little bit on what you meant by that?
Oftentimes we glorify the power of celebrities and their ability to create change, forgetting that we - individual citizens - have that same power to create change inside each of us. That’s why my role as an engaged global citizen remains the most important role I’ve ever played. I view it as my duty to remind my fellow citizens that they share that power. It’s up to each us to realize our own agency and drive forward the change we need today for a healthy future.
We know you have a long list of celeb friends, are you enlisting the help of any famous friends to get the word out?
Have you been tagged yet?! I’ve teamed up with the UN Environment and a few of my friends to #BeatPlasticPollution in honor of World Environment Day. Celebrities from Aidan Gallagher to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Dia Mirza have joined me and the UN Environment to inspire others to ditch single-use plastics. This challenge has been accepted by over 65 celebrities with a reach well over half a billion. So AOL, I think it's your turn... Tag, you’re it!
Aside from swapping your plastic straws to paper, what’s another simple way for us to #stopsucking when it comes to plastic pollution?
My team and I at Lonely Whale view the plastic straw as the “gateway plastic” into the larger plastic pollution issue. Once you’ve perfected your pledge to #StopSucking, level up and ditch the plastic water bottle. It’s harder but such an impactful commitment. One million plastic water bottles are bought every minute around the world. Let that sink in…then make a commitment to #BeatPlasticPollution.
We know it has been a mission to get the attention of Starbucks to help get them make the switch from plastic to paper straws. Has there been any progress there and what can we do to help?
We need bold corporate leadership today to stem the flow of plastic pollution into our global oceans for #CleanSeas. We don’t have time to wait. As UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim stated last December, our ocean is facing an “ocean armageddon” due to plastic pollution. Action today is critical to address plastic pollution. We need to hold producers of single-use plastics responsible and demand a legally binding global agreement from our global leadership.
Adrian Grenier through the years
Adrian Grenier through the years
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 18: Adrian Grenier attends Party with a Purpose, the Official Pre-Party to WE Day California at The Peppermint Club on April 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Party with a Purpose)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Adrian Grenier (L) and Mario Lopez visit 'Extra' at Universal Studios Hollywood on February 27, 2018 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Adrian Grenier during 3rd Anniversary Celebration of LIGHT Nightclub at The Bellagio at Caramel at The Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - JUNE 2: (L-R) Jerry Ferrara, Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, Debi Mazar and Kevin Dillon attend HBO hosts The New York Season 2 Premiere of 'Entourage' at Damrosch Park on June 2, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Tori Spelling, Adrian Grenier and Rosario Dawson during American Eagle Announces Six Winners of National 'Live Your Life' Contest at Union Square Celebration - Inside Party and Arrivals at American Eagle Outfitters Union Square Flagship Store in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic)
Adrian Grenier, presenter during 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room at The Shrine in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
Actors Adrian Grenier (L) and Melissa Joan Hart (R) attend the Sony Flagship Concept Store Opening at Century City Mall on March 30, 2011 in Century City, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)
Actors Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, 'Entourage' creator Doug Ellin, Jerry Ferrara and Kevin Dillon attends An Evening with 'Entourage' at The Paley Center for Media on July 20, 2011 in New York City.
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actor Adrian Grenier poses with HP in the HP Touchsmart Gift Lounge backstage at the Nokia Theatre, in celebration of The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards, produced by On 3 Productions on September 18, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 04: Adrian Grenier and Le Call attend the Philadelphia 76ers vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on November 4, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: (L-R) Director Matthew Cooke and producer/actor Adrian Grenier attend Meet the Filmmaker: 'How to Make Money Selling Drugs' during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival at the Apple Store Soho on April 26, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 19: Adrian Grenier is seen on February 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: (L-R) Actor Jerry Ferrara, actor Adrian Grenier, honoree Mark Wahlberg (holding the MTV Generation Award) and actor Kevin Dillon pose in the press room during the 2014 MTV Movie Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for MTV)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Adrian Grenier, Jerry Ferrara, and Kevin Dillon speak onstage during the 2014 MTV Movie Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Actor Adrian Grenier attends the 2014 MTV Movie Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 22: Adrian Grenier and Paz Vega attends amfAR's 21st Cinema Against AIDS Gala Presented By WORLDVIEW, BOLD FILMS, And BVLGARI at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on May 22, 2014 in Cap d'Antibes, France. (Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/amfAR14/WireImage)
CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 22: Adrian Grenier attends amfAR's 21st Cinema Against AIDS Gala, Presented By WORLDVIEW, BOLD FILMS, And BVLGARI at the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 22, 2014 in Cap d'Antibes, France. (Photo by Tony Barson/FilmMagic)
FAIRFIELD, CA - OCTOBER 02: (L-R) Actors Keegan Allen and Adrian Grenier attend the World Animal Day Celebration at International Bird Rescue on October 2, 2014 in Fairfield, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: Adrian Grenier (L) and Prime Ministers of Norway Erna Solberg attend VIP Lounge at the 2014 Global Citizen Festival to end extreme poverty by 2030 in Central Park on September 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Global Citizen Festival)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Actor Adrian Grenier attends the REVEAL Calvin Klein Fragrance Launch at 4 World Trade Center on September 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steven A Henry/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Actor Adrian Grenier attends the G-Star RAW Ocean Night Event during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at 23 Wall Street on September 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: Adrian Grenier and Ryan Reynolds attend the 2014 Global Citizen Festival to end extreme poverty by 2030 at Central Park on September 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen Festival)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 09: Adrian Grenier attends the European premiere of 'Entourage' at the Vue West End on June 9, 2015 in London, England.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Paul Treadway / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Paul Treadway / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 16: Adrian Grenier attends the Burberry 'London in Los Angeles' event at Griffith Observatory on April 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
MIAMI, FL - MAY 19: Adrian Grenier and Karla Martinez is On The Set Of Despierta America to promote 'Entourage' at Univision Studios on May 19, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 17: (L-R) Singer Nick Jonas, actor Adrian Grenier, Executive Vice President of Republic Records Charlie Walk, and President and CEO of the Big Machine Label Group Scott Borchetta attend the Nick Jonas 'Live In Concert' Tour Announcement and Billboard Music Awards After Party at The Mansion at the MGM Grand on May 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/BMA2015/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 23: Adrian Grenier is seen at LAX on December 23, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07: Actor Adrian Grenier attends the 142nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 07, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Churchill Downs)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Actor, host Adrian Grenier attends the 2016 World Chess Championship Match Opening Ceremony at The Plaza Hotel on November 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 25: Adrian Grenier attends the Apple Music and KYGO 'Stole The Show' documentary film premiere at The Metrograph on July 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 14: Adrian Grenier and Debi Mazar speak on stage at the 2017 Fragrance Foundation Awards Presented By Hearst Magazines at Alice Tully Hall on June 14, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Fragrance Foundation)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 18: Actor Adrian Grenier attends Party with a Purpose x PacSun WE Day pre-party at The Peppermint Club on April 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Actor Adrian Grenier addresses sustainable packaging during questions and answers with company leadership at the Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders at McCaw Hall in Seattle, Washington on March 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Jason Redmond (Photo credit should read JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)