Exclusive Interview: Jeff Garlin, from ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’
On the HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm, comedian Jeff Garlin plays Jeff Greene, the manager and friend of star Larry David. Rumors of the show’s demise were greatly exaggerated when David and company were coaxed back for a sixth season, which premiered this past Sunday. In addition, Garlin is receiving rave reviews on the big screen for his directorial debut, which he also stars in and wrote, called I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With.
BuddyTV spoke to Jeff about the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the man behind it all, Larry David, and his new film.
Hi, this is John from Buddy TV, and we’re talking to Jeff Garlin, one of the stars of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Hi, Jeff.
The sixth season [recently] premiered. Why come back for another? Wasn’t the fifth supposed to be the last one?
It was supposed to be the last one, but Larry David wanted to do another. So who am I to spoil things?
Exactly. And is this the last one, or?…
This is definitely the last one.
I’m not gonna say definitely, but it’s the last one.
OK. And now this new season, the over-arcing plot for the season is basically about Larry and Cheryl taking in a family that was displaced by a hurricane.
That is true.
It’s more political than a lot of the previous arcs, and I’m wondering why go with something like this?
I don’t know, it’s just what we’re doing, the stories that Larry thought of. That’s what we’re doing. I don’t think he wanted to make any sort of statement, or even be daring per se, he just wrote something and we’re doing it.
Is that how all the seasons came about? Larry just comes up with an idea and says, “This is where we’re going?”
Yes indeed, my friend.
At least with a racial aspect I would imagine, because I’ve seen the first three episodes, and still no sign of Wanda Sykes. Will she be showing up before the end of the season?
That surprises me, because she’s always been there every single year, I think.
She has been there for a long time, but no, she is not on the show this year. There was no reason, he just didn’t write anything, that’s all.
Now I’m wondering about the script, because a lot of it is, you have detailed outlines for the plots for the story.
But you don’t have actual scripts with the dialogue?
No dialogue, yes, we make up our own dialogue.
So what exactly is in this? How detailed are the script outlines?
It says in them, like paragraph by paragraph, what is happening in the scene. It tells you somebody meets somebody, they get angry because somebody did this, but it doesn’t say any more than that. But it is very detailed in terms of what happened in that scene, just the dialogue’s not there.
How many takes would you do?
There is no average. Sometimes it depends on this thing called coverage, you pick up this, that and the other things. So in terms of everything being equal, a scene with Larry and I will go a lot quicker than a scene with two or three other people too.
A lot of the episodes, there are four or five different plot threads that are all kind of intertwining and interconnected, that all lead to the same conclusion. When I was watching the first three episodes with my friends, we were just kind of marveling at how could anyone possibly create such a finely intricate plot.
That’s why he’s Larry David, you know. The only other person I know of who’s ever done something like this is a guy named Nat Hiken. Nat Hiken created the Sergeant Bilko show, and Car 54, Where Are You? And he also did things in that way where sort of like, spun around all these different stories, and they all sort of meet up. But it’s pretty amazing, I’m in awe whenever I get the new outlines, I’m completely in awe.
So it’s really just all Larry’s idea and creation?
Everything about it is Larry, I’m lucky to be along for the ride.
And do you enjoy working with your wife on the show, who is played by…
Susie Essman, sure, I love working with her. As a matter of fact she, Richard Lewis and myself are gonna go out and do some stand-up things together.
So I would imagine it’s more fun than actual work, being on the show.
That’s why I love my job, because it is actual work, and my actual work is completely fun.
And what would you say is the biggest difference between your char and, are you different in personality, or is it mostly just you in the screen?
What you see in the screen, the personality is pretty close, but the person is not. Because I think that Jeff Greene is a pretty evil guy.
What makes him evil?
He has no morals, no scruples.
What are some of your favorite shows right now on TV?
Oh my favorite shows, comedically I love South Park, it’s probably my favorite show. And then in terms of dramatically, I love The Wire. I got a Wire poster at the HBO offices. The Wire is my favorite show, no doubt about it.
And with the upcoming season, finally, I’m just wondering. Is there a favorite moment or an episode or a plot that your character is involved in, that you can tell us about for the upcoming season?
No? There’s nothing like…
Nothing I can tell you.
Oh, nothing you can tell us?
It’s all super secret, nothing being released?
So have I spoiled more than I should have, probably, by even saying what the season-long plot is?
I didn’t realize that HBO had you under such…
Not HBO, it’s Larry David.
Ah, Larry David doesn’t like anything to get out?
Nothing to get out.
Thank you very much for talking to us as much as you could, given the super secret constraints.
But wait, you never asked me about my movie.
Oh, you have a new movie coming out?
It came out last night.
Oh, I didn’t even…
I got a rave review in the New York Times yesterday for I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, with myself, Sarah Silverman, and Bonnie Hunt
That’s an outstanding cast.
Well thank you, my friend.
Those are some funny women you’re in line with there.
Also, Amy Sedaris is in there too. I got all the funny women in my movie.
And what’s this movie about?
It’s about a plain guy named James, who struggles with his job, struggles with women and deals with it through the magic of food.
Cooking, eating food?
I wish cooking. Eating food.
That definitely sounds like an outstanding cast, much like Curb Your Enthusiasm. You seem to be working with all the funniest people around right now, yourself included.
Well, you’re a good man to say that, I thank you.
-Interview conducted by John Kubicek
(Images courtesy of Claudette Barius/HBO)
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