HBO's hit comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm returned for its sixth-season premiere last Sunday, and if you had to name one person other than Larry David who's been responsible for the show's success, it would have to be Jeff Garlin. The big-bodied Chicago native has handled executive-producing duties while playing Jeff Greene, Larry's manager and mischievous confidant. In this week's episode, "The Anonymous Donor," Jeff once again proves that Larry is not the only one whose enthusiasms can get him into trouble. TVGuide.com spoke with Garlin about the new season — and what it's like to serenade a packed house at Wrigley Field.
TVGuide.com: Jeff seems to behave just as badly as Larry, but for some reason it's more acceptable coming from Jeff. Why is that?
Jeff Garlin: I guess it's just his personality, which is close to my own personality. The character is totally lacking in morals and integrity — I hope that's different from me — but it's an honor to be able to play such a fun character.
TVGuide.com: What makes Larry and Jeff such good friends?
Garlin: I don't know... because it says so in the script.
TVGuide.com: That sounds like a bit of a cop-out.
Garlin: Why is that a cop-out? I'm very pragmatic about the way I approach acting. I know what I have to do. Show me where to stand; show me what I'm saying and I'll do it. If you want me to make adjustments, we'll make adjustments. I don't overthink it.
TVGuide.com: The cast of Curb seems like a pretty tight-knit group. Do you guys have as good a time working together as it looks?
Garlin: We have a lot of fun and we are actually very close friends. It's a pretty great relationship that we all have. Not once has there ever been a tense word on set between any of the cast members. Not once. It helps that Susie [Essman] and Larry and I knew each other before we did the show, but I only met Cheryl when she auditioned.
TVGuide.com: A lot of people may not realize that you've been part of the show's development since Day 1.
Garlin: Yeah, I approached Larry with the original idea for the HBO special, and he made it brilliant.
TVGuide.com: Are you guys at all surprised that the onetime special has grown into this long-running hit series?
Garlin: Of course! We are shocked. I'm surprised that I'm even talking to you about it right now. We never expected it to be a hit. Who the hell knows what makes something commercial? We just thought it was funny.
TVGuide.com: So what's the biggest difference now from when you started out six seasons ago?
Garlin: The style of the show is a little denser now. It was a lot lighter and documentary-style when we first started. Now the stories are denser and plot-driven, and a lot more things need to be cut.
TVGuide.com: On a completely unrelated topic, you're a Chicago native and a diehard Bears fan. How do you feel about their chances this season?
Garlin: I feel like they've got a great shot. If Rex Grossman plays well, they've got an excellent shot.
TVGuide.com: That's a big what-if. How about the Cubs' playoff chances?
Garlin: I'm nervous. I've caught more than a few games this season, and things have been up and down. Actually, three or four times this season, I sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch.
TVGuide.com: Now that would make me nervous.
Garlin: Nothing makes me nervous usually. I just did Letterman, though, and that made me nervous. He's one of my heroes, so I was just really aware of the circumstances. For the most part, though, I'm pretty relaxed with show-business stuff.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, but that's just talking in front of a studio audience. Singing in front of a stadium full of Cubs fans is slightly different.
Garlin: It's just "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." It's not like I'm singing an opera.
TVGuide.com: True, but you're also trying to fill the shoes of Harry Caray.
Garlin: No one can fill the shoes of Harry Caray. I just look at it as making a Cubs game that much more fun.
Those wacky Curb Your Enthusiasm guys are all over our Online Video Guide.
The new Fall Preview: Returning Favorites issue of TV Guide, featuring an exclusive interview with Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey, is on newsstands now. And get a FREE downloadable copy of last week's roundup of new shows here!
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.