Want to get a room full of TV journalists laughing? Invite Larry David to the party.
In a very entertaining half-hour Q&A during Thursday's Television Critics Association tour, David talked about the long-haired look he sports in his new HBO movie "Clear History" (airing August 10), the future of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and a wide range of topics that had the normally stoic audience eating out of his hand.
First, the bad news: David is still not sure if he'll do another season of "Curb," which last aired on HBO in 2011. "I really don't know," he said when asked directly about a possible ninth season. "Ask me in six months." He later confessed he has trouble making up his mind: "I'm just an indecisive fella. You should see me at a restaurant."
We do have good news, though: David wrote and stars in "Clear History, " and having seen it, we can tell you it's more or less a 90-minute episode of "Curb." David plays a marketing exec who quits an electric-car start-up right before it hits it big, missing out on a billion-dollar payday. Ten years later, he runs into the company's CEO (Jon Hamm) and plots his revenge. It boasts a star-studded supporting cast (Hamm, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Michael Keaton) and lots of the awkward social-etiquette cringe humor we've come to expect from David and "Curb."
Watch the trailer for "Clear History" right here:
Here are just a few of the highlights from "Clear History's" TCA session:
- In the opening scenes of "Clear History," David is nearly unrecognizable with long hippie hair, no glasses, and a flowing beard. The drastic change was necessary so his character wouldn't be recognized ten years later, but David hated it: "The makeup was intolerable. To sit in that chair for an hour every morning to put that on, it felt like I had 10,000 insects on my head. I couldn’t stand it." Luckily for him, for the rest of the movie, he's the bald and bespectacled Larry we know and love.
- David knows a thing or two about turning his back on a lucrative franchise. As he reminded us, he did leave "Seinfeld" after Season 7, and even threatened to quit before the show hit the air: "I quit a couple of times, yeah. The show was hardly off the ground at that point." But he thinks he made the right decision in sticking with it: "I certainly wasn't making a lot of money doing stand-up. Or selling bras."
- One of the great celebrity cameos in "Clear History" comes from Liev Schreiber, who plays a shady Russian criminal Nathan gets entangled with. But he's uncredited in the film, and that's apparently due to a fierce pay-cable rivalry. As David explained, "I think that's a Showtime issue. There's kind of a Showtime/HBO thing, you know." (Schreiber currently stars in the Showtime drama "Ray Donovan.")
- Who's the funniest person Larry David has ever worked with? The answer might surprise you. No, it will definitely surprise you. "Nobody ever makes me laugh harder than Philip Baker Hall," David said about his "Clear History" co-star. "It takes me so long to do a scene with him. He just has this straight-laced way about him that breaks me up. I love him." Hall is mostly known for his character work in big-screen dramas ("Magnolia," "The Insider"), but "Seinfeld" fans remember him well as relentless library cop Mr. Bookman from the 1991 episode "The Library."
- Like "Curb," "Clear History" is largely improvised; David and his co-writers wrote a 35-page treatment that had all of the scenes, but none of the dialogue. And he thinks actors enjoy the freedom of that: "90 percent of actors love to improvise, and everybody in the movie took to it so easily." He singled out Jon Hamm, Eva Mendes, and especially Danny McBride for their improv skills: "Danny was amazing in the movie. He improvises some of the funniest lines in the movie. I just couldn’t believe how fast he was, how sharp he was." Hmmm... maybe if there is another season of "Curb," we'll get to see a Kenny Powers vs. Larry David showdown. And if not, "Clear History" is a pretty hilarious consolation prize.
"Clear History" premieres Saturday, 8/10 at 9 PM on HBO.