As ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Ends, JB Smoove and Susie Essman Say Goodbye

HBO‘s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is so effective at creating a plausible reality for Larry David‘s eponymous character that one could be forgiven for assuming the entire series is simply shot in pre-existing locations. While the show has unquestionably made hilarious use of dozens of Los Angeles locations over its 12 seasons, some of its most recognizable environments are sets that have been carefully designed and decorated to express character.

The guest house in which Larry’s permanent roommate, Leon Black (JB Smoove), lives is a case in point, and its design is a subtle blend of Larry and Leon’s personalities since it’s Larry’s property but, for all practical purposes, Leon has taken it over. “The big furniture is all Larry’s,” set decorator Eden Barr told IndieWire, “but Leon has ‘Leon-ed’ it up with things that make it his happy place.” To that end, the guest house is filled with artwork that conveys Leon’s personality, like retro pin-up girl photos from the 1980s and Barr’s personal favorite piece of decor, a black light velvet painting.

Smoove has his own favorite pieces of set decoration, from a small plant he calls his “tree of wisdom” to a lucky elephant. In the exclusive clip below, Smoove tours his guest house for the last time and points out these props along with other touches like a boxy TV set — something Larry David’s character presumably moved to the guest house when its technology became dated:

 

 

On most episodes, the guest house is also cluttered with food containers. “Normally it’s packed with Leon’s snacks, they’re covering the coffee table,” Barr said, adding that part of her job on a show like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is just making the actors smile when they walk on set. “Every season, I would throw new things in for the actors. I put giant Lucite horns next to the television in Susie’s house at the beginning of this last season and she was doing a scene when one of them caught her eye.”

Although Barr couldn’t go quite as far with the set decoration for Susie Essman’s character as the costume designers did with her clothes, she found outrageous touches for Susie and Jeff’s house and then slightly tempered them to keep the depiction from drifting into caricature. “My thought was that she hired a decorator but had a lot of influence of her own,” Barr said. On her last day in the bedroom set, Essman shot the below goodbye video, acknowledging the emotional upheaval of leaving the show while referencing those insane costumes: “I’m never gonna put these fucking outfits on again!”

Providing Essman, Smoove, David, and the other stars with their living spaces remains one of Barr’s lasting pleasures from four seasons of working on “Curb.” “Everybody who could would always come back because it’s such a family. The wrap party and, more recently, the screening party were definitely bittersweet.”

SOURCE: Indie Wire

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