Cheryl Hines Landed Curb Your Enthusiasm While Working As Rob Reiner's Assistant

Cheryl Hines has over 75 movie and TV credits to her name, but only a few of those come before her Emmy-nominated role as Larry David's long-suffering wife, also named Cheryl, on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." As Turner Classic Movies notes, Hines was bartending at a hotel when she first auditioned for the L.A. improv comedy group The Groundlings. This would arm her with the improvisational skills she needed to keep up with David in "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but it was only by chance that she landed the role, and in another life, she might have had to settle for being a comedian's personal assistant rather than his scene partner.

While performing sketch comedy at a nightclub, Hines caught the eye of Robert B. Weide, the director and supervising producer of the one-hour HBO special, "Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm." This special would become the basis for the long-running series, which is headed into its 12th season and 23rd year on HBO. Before that, Hines spent time working as an assistant for another bald funny man, Rob Reiner, who went from acting on the sitcom "All in the Family" in the 1970s to directing classic films like "This Is Spinal Tap," "The Princess Bride," and "When Harry Met Sally" in the 1980s.

In a 2022 episode of The Back Room with Andy Ostroy, Hines related how "Curb Your Enthusiasm" turned her fortunes around as a struggling actress:

"It's crazy, and amazing, and who would have guessed it, you know? When I auditioned for 'Curb', it was a one-hour special on HBO. It wasn't even meant to be a series. I was still working for the Reiners when I got 'Curb.' It was really crazy because Rob came in and was like, 'Are you playing ... Larry David's wife?'"

From assistant to apologetic boss

When Hines told Reiner the news of her casting in "Curb Your Enthusiasm," it also served as her resignation as his personal assistant. Reiner was especially surprised, Hines explained, because he and Larry David were already friends. "He said, 'Why didn't you tell me you were even going into audition?'" Hines continued, "and I was like, 'I'm not going to tell you every audition I'm going in for,' because at that time, I'm going in for who knows what every other day, but he thought that was so crazy."

It's not a stretch to imagine that Hines' real-life experience working as a bartender and personal assistant — dealing with the demands of drunk people and Hollywood elites — might have made her uniquely suited to put up with David's cringe-comedy shenanigans on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." In a 2007 interview with Collider, she acknowledged that working as an assistant, at least, had made her more sympathetic toward the kind of people who are forced to fly to other cities to pick up a cake for their boss and then fly back with the cake occupying its own seat on the plane.

"I am almost apologizing for asking them to go pick up my laundry, because I've been there, I know how it feels," she said. "And I always tell my assistant, if I ever ask you to do anything that you don't want to do or feel uncomfortable about, just let me know."

The first 11 seasons of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" are streaming on HBO Max, while the 12th and possibly final season (depending on who you ask) is expected to drop before the end of the year.