Larry David talks about putting 'Seinfeld' back together for 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
Time has not softened the edges of the creator and star of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” despite the nostalgia trip of this season’s central storyline of a “Seinfeld” reunion.
“The more people I can offend, the better,” David said of his comedic sensibilities.
The “Seinfeld” reunion won’t be airing on NBC -- and it’s not exactly real either. It is a plot line for Season 7 (debuting Sunday) that David, who co-created “Seinfeld” with Jerry Seinfeld, has had in mind for several years.
“We’ve done a faux reunion,” David said. “I had the idea a few years ago but then I also had the idea to do the Katrina [storyline] with the Blacks and that seemed like it wasn’t quite as ambitious. So I put this one off. I knew it was a great idea” -- the specifics of which he won’t reveal -- “but the question was, ‘Can we do it? Can we pull it off? Can we get the actors? Can we get the sets?’ ”
Both the actors and the sets will be back. Each of the original “Seinfeld” quartet -- Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, and Jason Alexander -- appears in a handful of episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” this season, playing fictionalized versions of themselves as the fictional Larry David attempts to mount a fictional version of a “Seinfeld” reunion.Asked about the actors‘ reactions to getting back together, David said “nobody was really negative. They seemed a little dubious [during] the first call. Some of them said, ‘Yeah, sure, whatever.’ I just think that they didn’t think it was going to happen. I think they were surprised when they got the second call six months later asking, ‘Are you available on March 30th to shoot?’ I think that they were all sort of dubious that it was going to happen, except for Jerry.”
If it seems like an unlikely reversal for the reunion-averse David, he is quick to admit that he’s been asked about a “Seinfeld” reunion -- a real one -- for years but would never give in.
It’s come up quite often,” he said. “People ask me and I always said no. And that’s probably why it was in my head to even do this in the first place. … I never considered [doing it for real]. I never would have considered it -- ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ is the only way it could have ever gotten done. I would never do it for exactly those reasons,” which will be discussed in the third episode this season, which kicks off the “Seinfeld” reunion plot
Episode 3 will also feature cameos from some of the series’ supporting characters, such as Wayne Knight’s Newman, Estelle Harris’ Estelle Costanza, and Steve Hytner’s irritating Kenny Bania. Guest stars will include Meg Ryan, Rosie O’Donnell, Christian Slater, Elisabeth Shue, Sharon Lawrence, Philip Baker Hall, Sherri Stringfield, Catherine O’Hara, Anita Barone and Amy Pietz.
“Meg is a friend and I asked her to do it,” David said. “I do hear from people from time to time that they’d love to be on the show and sometimes they are. I know Christian Slater wanted to be on the show so he’s on.”
Still, with so many celebrities playing versions of themselves — or new characters — the line between fantasy and reality remains paper-thin on “Curb.” But David maintained that his misanthropic character is pretty close to reality. “I’ve always said that my personality is a lot truer on the show than it is in life,” he said. “So to me, you’re really seeing my personality. What you’re getting now and what most people get daily is a dishonest human being.“
But what about Cheryl? She and David are still on the outs when the season begins. The “Seinfeld” plot actually figures in to Larry‘s attempts to recapture the affections of his ex-wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines). How, exactly? David’s not talking.
“A lot of the season is about that,” he said. “I don’t want to get too specific. But the only reason I am doing the reunion show is to try and get her back.”
Viewers concerned that Larry and Cheryl’s divorce would mean Hines’ departure from the series needn’t worry; Hines is back and an integral part of the seventh season of “Curb.”
“She’s the best,” David said. "She’s wonderful. She’s a fantastic actress, she knows exactly what to do. In every scene, she knows where the comedy is and she just has the greatest disposition and is just fun to be around.”
Hines, of course, has had to put up with many of the fictional Larry David’s irate tantrums and the hysterically painful situations he has found himself enmeshed in on “Curb” over the years. And as viewers know, no topic is off limits.
“I don’t think there are any sacred cows,” David said. “You have to find the right angle. I have to have a sense that it’s going to play funny. Usually, the more sacred the cow the more funny it is, if you get the right angle for it. It’s taking a high dive.”
Among the most memorable for David? “I suppose how we dealt with incest on one of the shows, that I wound up in an incest survivor meeting. … That’s not an easy subject.”
This season will find David attempting to extricate himself from his relationship with Loretta Black (Vivica A. Fox), a decision made even more perilous by her -- spoiler alert! -- cancer diagnosis.
“They’re hard enough to get out of when there’s no disease, but when you’ve got a disease like that, how do you walk out on this person? It seemed like a terrible trap to be in. It seemed like that was a pretty ripe premise and an interesting way to get out of this relationship too.”
All of which translates to some very awkward sequences, even for David, this season, and even as he attempts to get his life back on track with the “Seinfeld” reunion.
“I’m thrilled” with the season, he said. “But of course I liked how the ‘Seinfeld’ finale turned out, so maybe you’re asking the wrong guy.” Despite his sardonic and self-deprecating sense of humor, it does seem as though David might just be, well, happy.
-- Jace Lacob
Photo credits: Top, Anne Cusack / For the Times; HBO.