Threatening To Slap Larry David Got J.B. Smoove Cast In Curb Your Enthusiasm

J.B. Smoove was a rather late addition to the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" cast. He joined the show in its sixth season in 2007, by which time it was already a well-established hit with copious Emmy nominations. When he went in for his audition, Smoove had to make an impression, and he did it in a way that is probably not advisable outside a controlled improv setting.

The threat of physical violence — specifically, a slap to creator and star Larry David's face in a comedy context — is what landed Smoove his role as Leon Black opposite David's fictionalized self on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Smoove related the story of his audition in an oral history of the show via The Hollywood Reporter, where he said:

"I go in there as Leon. They said, 'OK, J.B., you're going to improv with Larry directly.' And I had no idea I was going to be improving with Larry directly. Larry is standing in the middle of the room. I thought I was going to go on tape, you know how they put you on tape, they review the tape. You know, you actually improved directly with Larry — I had no idea. So, Larry is standing in the middle of the room, and this is exactly what I said to Larry, verbatim: I walk up to Larry as Leon, I said, 'OK, Larry, let's do this, baby.' You know, this is improv, right? I said, 'OK, let's improv.' And since this is improv, I said, 'I don't know Larry, I might f*** around and slap you in the face.' And that's exactly what I said to him, and Larry looked at everybody else like, 'What the, who the hell is this guy?'"

'Get in that a**'

Before he boarded Larry David's cringe comedy train on HBO, Smoove worked as a "Saturday Night Live" writer, and he has since gone on to appear in the sitcom "The Millers" and the reality-show spoof "Real Husbands of Hollywood," not to mention playing a part written specifically for him in "Spider-Man: Far from Home." Even before the chance to audition for "Curb Your Enthusiasm" came up, Smoove was a fan of David's show — along with other members of the "SNL" writing staff, who would "come in on write days and spend the first 15 minutes talking about 'Curb,'" as he later recalled to THR. Smoove even talked about wanting to be on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to his wife, who told him, "You're going to be on that show one day."

When he went in for his audition, Smoove was already in character as Leon, and you can see how the confrontational moment with him threatening to slap David spilled over onto the show. In one of his early appearances, Leon tells Larry that the way to handle skinheads and people in general is to "get in that a**," meaning let them know you're there, fully present and not to be trifled with. Smoove brought the same attitude to his audition, and he's been a "Curb Your Enthusiasm" cast member ever since.