Larry David’s Biggest Rivals from ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Tell the Tales of Their Fiercest Televised Battles with Him

Auntie Rae, Mr. Takahashi and many others render judgment on Larry in time for the ‘Curb’ series finale
Larry David’s Biggest Rivals from ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Tell the Tales of Their Fiercest Televised Battles with Him

In the final episode of SeinfeldJerryGeorgeKramer and Elaine are put on trial for violating an obscure good samaritan law in Massachusetts for not intervening in a carjacking. But their inaction during the crime wasn’t the only thing they had to answer for, as the prosecution seeked to condemn them for years of selfish behavior. During the proceedings, the prosecution presented character witness after character witness — each of whom had been wronged by one or all of the foursome — to prove their case and send the Seinfeld gang to prison. 

Now, judgment day has come for Seinfeld co-creator Larry David. The final episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm airs on Sunday, and thanks to Larry violating an obscure law in Georgia at the beginning of the season, all signs point to a similarly courtroom-set finale that may very well render judgment on Larry’s character, too. And given Larry’s surly, selfish behavior over the 12 seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm, if a similar parade of character witnesses comes to condemn him, he will no doubt meet the same fate as the Seinfeld characters he helped create.

In terms of who might be doing all that condemning, we’ve gathered some of the most memorable guest stars that fictional Larry has wronged over the years to render their judgment on the real-life Larry David, their experiences on Curb and what the show has meant to them — and everyone else.

On How Much Larry Resembles His Character

Greg Wantanabe as Yoshi, the Guy Who Attempted Suicide After Larry Caused Him Shame Over His Kamikaze Pilot Father: The character Larry plays is very much him, but turned up to 11. 

Dana Lee as Mr. Takahashi, the Guy Whose Black Swan was Killed by Larry: He’s kind of like his character, but not quite as big. There’s a lot of the real Larry in the character, but Larry is great to work with. He allows you to do your thing. 

Lolita Davidovich as Beverly, the Woman Who Larry Refused to Share a Drink with After She Gave Richard Lewis Vehicular Fellatio: Larry’s character can be so unnerving and disagreeable, even excruciating. And while he has all these issues and sensitivities, in person, Larry is sweet, gentle, shy, respectful and wide-eyed. He’s so embracing of human nature, especially his own. 

Iris Bahr as Rachel Heinemann, the Woman Who Leapt from a Ski Lift to Avoid Being with Larry After Sundown: Larry loves it when people around him are funny. He cracks up too, and I love it when he does. People always ask if Larry is like Larry. Of course, it’s a heightened version of him because it has to come from a real place, but in reality, he’s a grounded, lovely human being. I’ve never gotten a curmudgeonly vibe from him ever.

Wayne Federman as Dean Weinstock, the Guy Whose Dream of Meeting Julia Louis-Dreyfus was Ruined by Larry: I met Lary while he was still doing stand-up. When I was emceeing, I would introduce him, he’d come up, and as we shook hands, he’d say, “Stay close.” Because, if it wasn’t going well, he wasn’t one of those comedians who thought it was a fun challenge to win over the crowd. He would just walk off. 

Ian Gomez as the Bald Chef, the Guy Who Was Fired by Larry for Wearing a Wig: Going in, I was completely intimidated because I thought he’d be the type of person who would just yell at you. In the show, so much irks him that I thought, “There’s no winning. I’m going to do something to get on his bad side, and someone is going to leave in tears — probably me.” But that wasn’t the case at all. Larry is playful, nice and friendly. You go in, try the scene out, and Larry will say, “I like that, say that again.” Then we do it a couple of times like that. It goes by rather quickly. Once I realized he’s not like I feared, it was over.

Mo Collins as Nurse Lisa Thompson, the Woman Who Larry Called Out for Her Big Vagina: On one hand, Larry and his character seem exactly alike, except that the real Larry is very kind. But the characteristics are all the same. You feel like you’re talking to Larry from Curb.

Ellia English as Auntie Rae, the Woman Who Larry Poked in the Stomach: I love both Larrys. The real Larry David — I call him the “Emperor of Comedy” — is a genius. His timing is perfect, and I love how he pushes boundaries. I love to make him laugh, too. I remember one moment from that first season when I said to him, “‘F’ you Larry David, and your monkey ‘A.’” He broke from that. If you can make Larry David laugh, then you think, “I must be doing something right.” 

As for the character Larry plays, he just needs a little help, the poor baby. We don’t know his backstory. We don’t know what happened to him and what made him hate people. Who did him wrong when he was a baby? Auntie Rae is grateful to Larry for taking her and her family in after the hurricane, so, even with everything he does, she still loves him. Everybody wants his character to figure it out and do the right thing. 

On the Rest of the ‘Curb’ Cast

Bahr: I did a pilot for ABC years after I did Curb, and Susie (Essman) was in it. I got to know her, and we became friends. I also co-wrote J.B. Smoove’s book, The Book of Leon, written in-character as Leon. I never worked with him on the show, but my book agent connected us and we did this book all in Leon’s voice. It was outrageous, yet still real. That’s what’s great about the show — everyone’s outrageous, yet highly relatable. 

English: J.B. Smoove is my nephew on the show. But he’s like a real nephew to me, too. It’s hard for me when Larry and J.B. are doing their dialogue. I have to fight to not laugh. I’m holding my breath sometimes, staying in character, just waiting for them to yell “cut” so I can laugh and get it out of my system. 

Lee: I loved Bob Einstein. Bob and I went way back. When I first started out in the business, he produced and directed a show called The Lola Falana Show. I did a bit on it with Pat Morita and Gabe Kaplan. That’s when I first met Bob. I didn’t meet him again until I played Mr. Takahashi. When I saw him, I told him “Bob, you may not remember, but I did a thing for you way back when I was 27 or 28,” and we got to talking about it.

Davidovitch: I had met Richard Lewis before I played his girlfriend on the show. Our paths crossed a number of times over 30 years. He was a stand-up, and I didn’t know what that energy was at first. He was frenetic, and he was so exposed. Whatever was going on inside, he exuded it on the outside. But I really enjoyed him. Such an affable, lovely man, and we had such a nice connection. I only did those two scenes on Curb, but Richard would call me before each new season and say, “God I hope they write you back in.”

On Shooting ‘Curb’

Carol Herman as Mrs. Shapiro, the Woman Whose Plant Was Nearly Killed by Larry: The audition was like no other I’ve ever had. Usually, when you have an audition, you’re given sides to read, but this time I was given a little strip of paper that said, “Woman goes into the house she had owned, and she’s now sold it to Larry. Continue…” That was all it said, so I didn’t know what I was supposed to do!

I waltzed into the room, and Larry said, in his dry way, “Hello, how are you?” I said, “Fine, what are we doing?” He said, “I don’t know, what are you doing?” I said, “Help me out here.” He said, “Well, you’re supposed to be walking in this house which I’ve bought. Go ahead.” 

So I just blabbed away. I started out by saying, “I can’t believe it — you put chartreuse chairs in this room! This is a craftswood house! It shouldn’t have modern chairs like this. I really am upset by this. This was my house, and I sold it to you in all faith that you would do a good thing with it. But look what you’ve done!” Finally, the producer or director who was sitting in the back said, “Carol! Carol! You can stop now.” 

I would have gone on for an hour. It was the strangest, most wonderful audition I ever had.

English: When they’re taping the episode, they tell us what the storyline is, what the scene is about and what’s supposed to happen. Then, when we’re rehearsing for the camera, instead of saying any words, we just say “yada yada yada yada yada” to each other. But once they said, “Action,” it’s every man for himself, and you better be ready. They’re coming out guns a-blazing, and you have to stay on that roller coaster.

Wantanabe: They work very quickly on that set. There are no pages, there is no dialogue. There’s just an idea of what should happen, and then they run multiple cameras for every take. You run through the scene, then Larry and his writers confer, and he gives notes — “Do that part,” and “That bit was funny.” You do it a couple more times and that’s it. 

One time, we were waiting on a camera reset or something and Larry said to me, “It’s hard because, I’ve been doing this for so long, sometimes I have to think, ‘Did we already do this for Seinfeld?’

Lee: After we do a scene, Larry goes, “Let’s keep this, let’s do away with that.” Once in a while, he’ll have a suggestion. Like, in “The Black Swan,” one thing he added was for me to do that stare-down that he does. He said, “Do that! Do that to me!” Another thing about that episode, the interrogation scene, it was supposed to be an homage to Bridge on the River Kwai. Larry asked me, “You remember the scene in Bridge on the River Kwai where he’s interrogating the prisoner?” I said, “Yeah, I’ve seen the movie.” He said, “Let’s recreate that.” I said “Okay, let’s do it.”

At the beginning of this season, we did the scene where Larry is sitting in front of me with his shorts and the joke is that I see his balls. The funny thing is, when we were shooting, I swear to God I thought I actually saw his balls. Maybe it was just in my mind, which I suppose is a good thing, but I really thought I saw them.

Bahr: For the ski-lift scene, I knew about the kidney consortium, my father and that I’m stuck on the ski lift and can’t be with Larry after sundown. Everything else is improvised, and you just play. 

I knew nothing about the rest of the episode. I knew nothing about the storyline; you never get a script. When Larry busted out the edible underwear, I had no idea what he was talking about. I wasn’t even aware there was such a thing as edible underwear — that’s how sheltered I am in real life. Only when I saw the episode on TV did I understand how it all fit together.

Collins: The part I played was a woman with an unusually large vagina so, of course, I was typecast. You know how that goes. Since the episode, I haven’t been able to consider my pelvic wall without seeing Larry’s hand gesture for “Big Vagina.” That’s what my pelvic bone structure looks like — Larry David’s hands. I’m pretty sure, if I got an X-ray, that would show up.

Federman: My first episode Episode Six, so it couldn’t have been more low budget. I don’t think it was even shot on digital yet. My take on my character was that I was the worst guy ever under the guise of being the nicest guy ever. I also thought, since I was a lawyer, I wanted to talk in such a way that lawyers do, where they spew facts, but miss the truth. I loved having no script. It was maybe the most freeing moment I’ve ever had on camera. You’re not worried about anything except listening to the people around you. It was a godsend to be able to act in that style. 

Chris Williams as Krazee-Eyez Killa, the Guy Whose Engagement Was Broken Up by Larry: When I did my audition, I was up against Ghostface Killah, Master P, Sticky Fingaz, all these real rappers. I went in with brown contacts, because I have blue eyes, and this grill I’d used when I played a rapper in a sketch comedy show. Being from Chappaqua, I was trying to convince myself I could be a gangsta, or you know, “hood.” I also had a wolf tattoo and called myself “The Wolfman.” Later, the name Krazee-Eyez came from the fact that I wore those brown contacts for the audition. But I don’t like wearing contacts, so I took one out and called myself Krazee-Eyez, then I put a “Killa” on the end. That’s the etymology of where Krazee-Eyez Killa comes from.

They only gave me a two-line description at the audition. It said, “You like eating Asian pussy; you can’t live without it,” and “You’re meeting Larry for the first time.” When I was in the room with Larry, I brought the “my (n-word)” into it because I wanted to make him uncomfortable. Later, I was told I got the role because you have to know the sensibility of what Curb is about — it’s the push and pull of Larry. Larry’s always in control, so if I can make him off-balance in any way, that’s where the comedy comes from. 

Much of what we did in the audition informed the scene when we taped the episode. I added the rap, which I had pre-written on a piece of paper. Larry had no idea I was going to pull out this piece of paper, but I knew that I was going to come back and scare him later in the episode; so I tried to write a rap that would scare him and be about what the episode was about. 

When Larry says “Are you my caucasian?,” look at my reaction. I’m so caught off-guard because I was thinking, “Oh, that was good.” I had to maintain my integrity as Krazee-Eyez, but it was such a fantastic line that you can see it catch me there.

Oh, by the way, it’s “cundelá” not “cool de lá” or any of the other ways I’ve seen it spelled. Years before, on Martha’s Vineyard of all places, me and my boys wanted to make up a slang word for us to use, and we came up with cundelá as a word to say to each other. Of course, it never took off and we don’t even say it to each other, but I wanted to include it there as an homage to my boys.

On ‘Curb’ Coming to a Close

Herman: Curb Your Enthusiasm was the best thing I ever got to do. It was wonderful and such fun. I almost sent Larry a real ficus plant, but then I thought better of it. 

Lee: I hate to see the show go. I love my character, and I loved the show even before I was on it. But, as they say, all good things have to come to an end. So, you deal with it. You move on. 

Bahr: I’m sad it’s ending. People know me from that show, and if they don’t know me, I will let them know I was on that show. A lot of people come up to me and ask, “You look familiar, did we sleep together in high school?” and I say “No, I’m the Orthodox Jewish chick on the ski lift in Curb Your Enthusiasm.” 

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