Jeremy Piven's Been Fish-Free for 10 Months

Jeremy Piven's Been Fish-Free for 10 Months
Jeremy Piven
Michael Buckner/Getty

updated 06/19/2009 at 07:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/19/2009 07:15AM

Hold the fish for Jeremy Piven.

"I haven't had a piece of fish since the doctor told me to lower my blood mercury level," the Entourage Emmy winner told PEOPLE during Thursday's Lakers celebration party at Los Angeles's Nokia Club. "So, it's been almost 10 months now."

Piven, 43, abruptly left the Broadway revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow mid-run in December with an ailment his doctor called fatigue from mercury poisoning.

Miffed over his departure from the show, producers filed charges with Actors Equity against Piven, with the case currently tied up in arbitration.

"I changed all of those habits," Piven says of his life post-Broadway. "All of these things happen to make us better. So, you've got to embrace that."

Now, he says, "I'm a lot better. What basically happens is when you work your whole life without stopping like I've done, you end up in the hospital. Basically, I had a cardiologist say your body is trying to catch up and it can't. I had a resting heart rate of 47, something called arrhythmia, along with all the mercury poisoning."

He adds, "They just said you can't get back in that stage. Basically what I'm trying to do is rest as much as possible, celebrate the Lakers for a moment, and go back to work."

Piven blamed his fatigue on his then-six times the normal blood-level of mercury. In the producers' claim – after it could not be decided unanimously by the Grievance Committee, the case was handed over to arbiters in February – a tally of Piven's nightlife habits was requested.

"By the way, for the record, it's the not the fish's fault," Piven says. "It's a man-made problem. It's all the mercury being dumped. Women shouldn't eat tuna, especially when you're pregnant."

The path to health, he says, is, "You just change your life and kind of do it. It wasn't necessarily the sushi. It was just a steady diet of fish. Twice a day for 20 years. That's not right for anyone."

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