A punchy, tired TCA press corps perked up considerably for the arrival of Larry David at the end of HBO’s presentation today. The “Curb Your Enthusiasm” creator was there with Greg Mottola to talk “Clear History,” the original movie David co-wrote and stars in and Mottola directed. The film, which airs on August 10th on HBO, stars David as a executive in an electric car start-up who quits after a disagreement with the company’s head, played by Jon Hamm, over the name of the product. 10 years later, the company’s become hugely successful, and David’s character is hiding out on Martha’s Vineyard under a new name when Hamm’s character comes by on vacation.
The prickly, hilarious David was just as happy to pick on anyone asking questions as answer them during the entertaining press session, offering assessments as to the quality of the queries (“That’s a very good, legitimate question. Nice going.”) and telling one journalist that he looked like an “Alan.” (He was, in fact, Hitfix critic Alan Sepinwall.) David admitted that, like his character, he’d quit “Seinfeld” in its early days — and more than once — but didn’t find the two situations all that similar in terms of the near loss as “the show was hardly off the ground at that point.”
David looks unrecognizable in the beginning of the film, with long hair and a beard, only later to be transformed into the comedian’s more familiar bald look. Initially, he said, they were going to go the other way, but he’s ultimately glad they didn’t — “the makeup was intolerable. To sit in that chair for an hour every morning, it felt like I had 10000 insects on my head. But I felt like I cut quite a figure.” As to how he differentiated the character in the movie from the one he plays in “Curb,” he claimed “I did a lot of research into this character. I wanted him to be world weary. I played it like I was wearing weights on my ankles,” before admitting “It was the same. I did nothing.”
The film was 90% improvised, based off a 35-page treatment with no written dialog. While some of the actors aren’t known for their improv backgrounds, David and Mottola said that there was “no buyer’s remorse” in terms of casting. In particular, David called out Eva Mendes as surprising, and praised Danny McBride: “He improvises some of the funniest lines in the movie. I couldn’t believe how fast he was, how sharp he was. He had the part of my sounding board pal — a lot of scenes weren’t designed for him to be funny, because he’s such a great improviser, every scene that he was in he came up with great lines.” McBride, like David and now Mottola, is a Martha’s Vineyard resident.
David said that he had been thinking about doing more “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or thinking about doing a movie, and thought “perhaps it’s time I try something else. So I decided to do a movie.” As to how the experience compared to his lone directorial effort, 1998’s “Sour Grapes,” he sighed “We had a much better director this time than we did for ‘Sour Grapes.’ This was more like a ‘Curb’ experience in that we were improvising it and I didn’t have to worry about directing and I could just act in it.” It was, he said, “more fun.”
And as for the future of “Curb Your Enthusiam,” he claimed he hadn’t decided: “I really don’t know. I couldn’t say. Ask me in six months.” When prodded about why he’s so indecisive about the series, he responded “I’m just an indecisive fellow, you should see me at a restaurant. It’s a big decision to do a season of that show. I’m lazy, lazy — who wants to do that?”