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On the second episode of this season’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David meets with an actor to consider casting him as a young version of himself on an upcoming Netflix series. Teen Wolf and Maze Runner star Dylan O’Brien recalls first meeting with the Curb creator-star for a short improv session over Zoom to test for the role of, well, Dylan O’Brien.
“I even screen-recorded it, because I wanted to keep it as a memory,” says O’Brien, whose first acting experiences came in improvised sketches he performed as a teenager (which led to him pursuing an acting career). “I had headphones on at the time,” he laments of his session with David, “so I just have this 10-minute screen recording of me and Larry improvising without sound.” Luckily, O’Brien landed the Curb guest spot, where he got to improvise as a fictionalized version of himself who, like many of Curb‘s supporting players, has cringeworthy interactions with David’s TV persona.
Larry first meets Dylan at his band’s rock show, where his loud music forces Larry to stuff tissues in his ears. When Dylan finds Larry’s hearing protection insulting to his musical talents, Larry meets with him again to apologize and to convince him to take the role on his show — a genial gesture Larry bungles when he loses control of his friend’s dog, Angel Muffin, whom he could have possibly saved from running into traffic if only he could have brought himself to call out the dog’s silly name.
O’Brien, seen primarily in dramatic and action roles, was keen to show off his comedic side. “It’s probably the last thing anyone would expect from me,” he says. “But it’s so my sense of humor. I love taking the piss out of myself. Even in my old sketches, I would always play alternate versions of myself that were totally not me.” He notes that he didn’t want to play himself as “the typical douchey actor,” but one whose sensitivity and good intentions can often be misdirected and misunderstood.
He also says that his scene partner was equally humble, not the kind of comic performer who wants all the attention and the biggest laughs for himself — much less the irascible version of Larry David he plays on TV. “Larry has no ego, which is so rare for a guy in comedy,” O’Brien says. “And by the way, he was cuddling with all of the dogs off camera.”
This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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