Tracey Ullman Says Mocking Larry David in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Couples Therapy Scene Was ‘So Much Fun’

The actress and comedian tells TheWrap about how she joined the HBO comedy and its impact on audiences across the globe

HBO

Warning: Spoilers for “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Season 12, Episode 4 ahead.

Larry David and his girlfriend Irma Kostroski (Tracey Ullman) headed to couples therapy in Sunday’s episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

The visit saw David getting annoyed with Kostroski for singing the JG Wentworth theme song, talking about his apparent obsession with phallic-shaped vegetables and his long balls (which later results in him being dubbed Long Ball Larry).

“I remember the couples therapy stuff got really crazy,” Ullman told TheWrap in an interview. “But it’s so much fun making fun of Larry.”

The actress said putting the pair in couples therapy was a “lovely thought.”

“Irma is under this misconception that ‘Larry’s in love with me’ and she thinks she’s got this great, passionate relationship and he’s too scared to get rid of her at this point,” she added. “People come into Larry’s life and they never leave.”

HBO

Irma was introduced on “Curb” during Season 11 in an episode that saw Larry befriend the Santa Monica councilwoman in an effort to get a pool fencing law repealed (which ultimately failed when Larry upset Irma, causing her to no show a repeal vote that ended in a tie). She later moved in after he and Leon (J. B. Smoove) accidentally caused her to lose power in her own house.

Ullman recalled getting a call from David and executive producer Jeff Schaffer during the COVID lockdown asking her if she would portray the character.

“They said, ‘Can you play the worst person in Los Angeles?’ And I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness, it’s intriguing’ and I know the show and I used to live in that part of town for such a long time. So I kind of know the world and it was a challenge,” Ullman explained. “I love that she never conforms or starts kissing the ass of the show business people.”

Larry David and Tracey Ullman in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Season 12 (John Johnson/HBO)

To keep the narrative spontaneous, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is shot without a script. Castmembers are given scene outlines so they can improvise lines as they go, which Ullman said is “the best way to work.”

“What I love about Larry is that he’ll never let it get out of hand. He’ll never push it too hard. And I’ve seen him and I’ve been in things where he’s just said, ‘No’ and you think ‘Oh it went so well,’ and he goes, ‘Do it again and everybody just shut up a bit or just calm down,’ and he’s right,” she added. “It’s being brave enough to do that that stops the show from getting too silly or too excited about ourselves. But you never know where it’s gonna go and I never say what I’m going to say at the beginning of the scene — that’s lethal, just do it and it works. But it’s the best time, I just adored it.”

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Larry David and Tracey Ullman in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Season 11 (HBO)

When it comes to collaborating with David on “Curb,” the scenes where she tried to seduce him were among her favorite.

“Doing those scenes in bed with him last year was really making us both laugh when I had that sleep apnea mask on and he was in horror about it,” she said. “We were just both laughing at that because it just was ridiculous.” 

Ullman also said that the secret to the show’s longevity is that David is secretly a “really, really, really nice man.”

“He’s very dignified and very kind to everybody, the whole crew. And it makes a huge difference when someone at the head is as nice as him,” she said.

The actress added that it is amazing just to be a part of the show’s legacy.

“It’s a wonderful show and it means a lot to people in loads of places. I’ve been speaking to people from France and Spain and all over the world. They get the sort of neurotic curmudgeon honesty,” Ullman said. “If you look at Season 1, it’s an experiment in Brentwood wandering around with some friends. And it’s just gotten funnier and funnier and more dense and intense and brilliant, terse plotlines. There’s loads of them to watch and rewatch, but I shall miss it very much.”

New episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” air Sundays on HBO and stream on Max.

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