While it's unknown if Larry David will ever play "Larry David" on Curb Your Enthusiasm again, fans of his unique comedic stylings were elated to learn last year that the Emmy-winner was embarking upon a feature film, one that worked within the improvisational confines his fans had come to love so deeply.
And then the cast for Clear History (premiering August 10 on HBO) came into focus -- David's joined by Jon Hamm, Danny McBride, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, Bill Hader -- and anticipation for his unofficial Improv Olympics reached a fever pitch.
Watch the trailer above, click here to see Kate with Larry and read on to find out how this whole project came together!
ETonline: How do you describe the plot of Clear History?
Greg Mottola: In this movie, Larry is not playing a fictional version of his successful self. This guy's a loser -- he had a chance early on in his life to be a huge success and he blows it. Essentially, he's haunted, forever, by having made an enemy of the most perfect person on the planet, [played by] Jon Hamm -- who is handsome, intelligent, successful, a great person and Larry basically represents the rest of us. It's the ultimate successful man versus the rest of us, which, I think, is a story for our times considering there's so much discussion of the one percent and the appeal of fame in American culture. Larry is definitely playing a Have Not, but also, An Almost Had.
ETonline: Was Jon Hamm the first choice to play The World's Most Perfect Man?
Mottola: Jon was everyone's favorite from the get-go. We were just shocked he wanted to do it. Anyone who has seen Jon on Saturday Night Live knows how insanely funny he is, which is another reason to hate Jon Hamm. On top of being such a fantastic dramatic actor, he's also an insanely funny comic. He completely goes toe-to-toe with Larry; a lot of my favorite stuff in the movie is between the two of them. He's also one of those annoying people who will sit on the set, just ripping through The New York Times crossword puzzle and making me feel stupid. He's not quite a mortal.
ETonline: How did you come to direct Clear History?
Mottola: I got a call one day from my agents saying that Larry was meeting with a couple of different directors to see who could do this project. I'd never met Larry but, like a lot of people, I'd been a fan for a long time. And while there has been some improvisation in the work I've done, particularly with Judd [Apatow on Undeclared], the idea of an all-improv movie was simultaneously terrifying and extremely appealing. I took the meeting thinking, at the very least, I'd get to meet Larry David, but I was shocked by how much we got along. The night before the meeting he watched Adventureland, and he told me that what he liked about the movie is that the jokes were not jokes. He prefers behavioral, situational, neurotic humor.
ETonline: Given the movie's all-improv structure, what did the script look like and how did you prepare as a director?
Mottola: Essentially Larry works from a treatment that has all the scenes plotted out, but there's no dialogue. It's a 30 page script full of stage directions. For a director, it's intriguing because you can't really show up with storyboards, you don't know what's going to happen on any given day. It was a big learning curve, but an absolute pleasure from the get-go through to the end.
ETonline: Did you and Larry make a conscious attempt to have Clear History look and feel different from Curb?
Mottola: Yeah, we talked a lot about how to differentiate the movie from the show; no one wanted this to seem like a 90-minute episode. Larry is doing more playing-it-straight acting in the movie then he normally did on the show. The way the story is structured, it called for a more naturalistic performance. Don't get me wrong, it's still ridiculous comedy, but he gets more dramatic moments.
ETonline: Did the actors feel similarly excited and apprehensive about signing on?
Mottola: They felt the same way I did; unsure they could do it but knowing it would be a really cool thing to try. It's a big cast of a lot of different types of actors. It was Larry's idea to not fill the film with people he's worked with before. J.B. Smoove is the only true Curb alum. And the more dramatic actors were nervous the first day, but they all got into it very quickly. Yes, we had ringers like Danny McBride and Michael Keaton, who have done this kind of stuff a lot, but everyone fell into the same movie. My concern with all these different [acting] styles was they wouldn't add up to feel like the same movie, but they really did.
Clear History premieres August 10 on HBO, while this trailer debuts at 7:57 p.m. this Saturday leading into the HBO premiere of The Watch.