Press Tour: Larry David on ‘Clear History’ and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

Senior Television Writer
07.25.13 13 Comments


Larry David was at press tour to discuss his upcoming HBO movie “Clear History,” which debuts on August 10, but because he’s Larry David, and because “Clear History” – in which David plays a man who gave away a future fortune out of spite in an argument with boss Jon Hamm – was made in the same improvised style as “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” discussion inevitably turned towards the future (or lack thereof) of “Curb.”

“I have not” decided on whether to do another season, he told the critics. “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I couldn’t say. Ask me in six months.”

When another reporter noted that he also takes an incredibly long amount of time to decide whether to do another season or not (since HBO will say yes whenever he agrees to do so), he said, among other things:

* “I’m an indecisive fellow. You should see me at a restaurant.”

* “It’s a big decision, by the way, to do a season of this show.”

* “I am lazy! Lazy! Who wants to do that?”

When he wasn’t fielding “Curb” questions, David was having a field day mocking the critics(*) in attendance for questions he found dumb, inane and, occasionally, amusing. (He commended one reporter for bringing up his movie directorial debut, the flop “Sour Grapes,” and said, “You almost had me on a spit take!”) It was a fun half-hour that was an equal mixture of David being quick and cruel on his feet, and occasional bits of insight about “Clear History.”

(*) Full disclosure: David skewered both me and Fienberg at various points. He complained, “Not a great question, sir,” when Dan asked about some of the movie’s visual comedy (and later apologized, saying it was a good question that he had no good answer for). And when I tried to slip in one question at the end of the panel, after asking one earlier – where he suggested (rightly, I suspect) he gets more Happy Birthday emails each year than I do – he accused me of being a “cheater,” and said that when he first saw me from the stage, he said to himself, “‘I’ll be that guy’s name is Alan.'” Now, keep in mind several things: 1)I’ve interviewed David twice in my life, but once was on the phone, way back when “Becker” was on the air (for a piece about working with Ted Danson “Curb”) and the other was in a group setting even earlier to discuss the original “Curb” TV special. He has no memory of who I am or what I look like, and 2)Even if he did, he’s on the stage under hot lights, and couldn’t possibly have identified me from there. So when he swore on his kids’ lives that he didn’t know my name, I believed him. Very strange.

For starters, David said the choice came down to doing another season of “Curb” or trying out a movie (albeit a movie where the 35-page story outline was written by David and fellow “Curb” writers Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel), “And I thought, ‘You know, perhaps it’s time I tried to do something else. So I decided to do the movie.”

The only “Curb” regular to appear is J.B. Smoove, whose character has a more antagonistic relationship with David than they do on the series. At first, David said, “We were thinking we didn’t want any ‘Curb’ people at first,” but decided even before director Greg Mottola was brought in that Smoove would be on his casting wishlist, rounding out an impressive cast that includes Hamm, Michael Keaton, Danny McBride, Amy Ryan, Eva Mendes, Kate Hudson, Phillip Baker Hall (who’s made multiple appearances on “Seinfeld” and “Curb,” and whom David said makes him laugh more than any other actor), Bill Hader and Liev Schreiber (in a funny role that had to go uncredited because of Schreiber’s Showtime contract for “Ray Donovan”). Some of the actors had a deep well of improv experience, while others like Hamm and Mendes were pretty new to it.

“90 percent of actors love to improvise,” David said. “Everybody in the movie just took to it so easily. Jon was great, and so was Eva. They loved it.”

He had particular praise for fellow HBO star McBride, who was mainly supposed to play a straight man role as David’s best friend.

“Danny was so amazing,” David recalled. “A lot of scenes weren’t designed for him to be funny, but because he’s so fast and so good and such a great improviser,” he wound up with many more jokes in the finished version than planned.

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