SPOILER ALERT: Do not read unless you have watched “Foisted!” the Oct. 1 episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
It’s especially satisfying, six years after saying goodbye to “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” to return to an episode that ends with Susie Greene punching Larry David in the face. It’s all in a day’s work for Susie Essman, who has punched or hit David throughout the nine seasons of the show — when not reaming him out. Executive producer Jeff Shaffer tells Variety that David loves a good Susie Greene ream-out: “It’s his greatest love. This joy that thatches over him when he is getting just screamed at is an amazing thing.” Variety spoke to Essman about playing her angry and occasionally violent alter-ego, and what’s in store with her for this season.
I’m losing my voice a little bit. I’m not sick. I just did not stop talking for two days.
Does this happen on the show, too?
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. When I have screaming, I have lost my voice, yeah. I have many takes.
Do you and Susie Greene have a lot in common?
No. We have certain things in common. We don’t suffer fools, and you know, we’re both take-no-prisoners, no-s–t people. But that’s about it. I don’t dress like her, number one. But I’m analytical, and she’s much more reactive. I never want to play myself. I’m with myself all the time! Why would I want to play myself?
I created her, basically. There were these girls I went to high school with, and always seemed so secure. They never doubted what they dressed like, what their responses to things were. They were right about everything. I was always so deeply insecure, never feeling like I was saying the right thing, doing the right thing, looking right. And this crazy curly hair. They just don’t have that neurotic piece.
She’s so certain.
So certain. Very strong sense of right and wrong. And how to behave. No, you don’t leave until the cake is served. I’m not so much. I leave whenever the f–k I feel like it. But she’s fun to play for that reason. She can dress the way she dresses because she’s so absolutely certain that she has amazing taste. I don’t think she ever doesn’t sleep at night, thinking, I shouldn’t have done that. That doesn’t exist for her.
It sounds like you identify a little more with Larry when you’re watching the show.
You know what, it is rude to stand in line at an ice cream store and take 15 samples. It’s rude to take up two parking spots. Often he’s right. Susie doesn’t argue with him about those kinds of things. It’s more personal stuff. And he has done some things to Sammi that are unforgivable.
So, Susie’s got Soap’s On this season.
Full organic. Sustainable. It’s such a bad name.
Susie’s a dilettante. She doesn’t need the money. She loves spending Jeff’s money! And the more he cheats on her, the more money she’s gonna spend. But she gets excited about something like Soaps On. You remember her sweatshirts? That was another.
And she only had one kid. But her kid is grown and she’s not a mother anymore. She needed a hobby. Gotta fill the void. You know, kids are an amazing filler. And people have them sometimes just for that reason. It gives you purpose. Always something you’ve gotta deal with. But they grow up and they leave. Nobody tells you, you’ve got another 30-something years you’ve gotta fill. You’ve gotta figure it out. I don’t need a hobby, I have a hobby, it’s called work. But I know her. Susie just can’t wait for grandkids so she has a reason for being again.
Talk about punching Larry in the face.
I enjoyed that. I punched him a bunch of times.
It must have been incredible.
It’s funny the things you remember. I remember doing that last scene and I was wearing my hair blown out straight. It was really steamy in there. So between every take we had to do the flat iron because my hair was frizzy. That’s what I remember. You have to see it so many times before you can just forget about the day.
I’ve punched him before, and hit him before. I remember one episode where I was standing in my doorway. We’ve had so many scenes in my doorway. And he kept telling me to hit him harder. I wasn’t hitting him hard enough. Larry’s a little delicate — he’s a skinny little thing. He kept telling me to hit him harder. And I did, finally.
Susie is so intense.
It’s very important for me to not act angry but to be angry. I’ve seen people in these scenes where they act angry. They’re screaming and they’re yelling. But they’re not really angry. I have to go there. And I know how to get there pretty easily. I’m not an angry person in real life but there are so many things to be angry about. For example, very easy to use Donald Trump. I’ve used different things over the years. One year I remember shooting a really angry scene. My husband and I, we were away. And my daughter had had a party at our house. Our teenage daughter. Oh didn’t I use her in my anger! There’s always something to be angry about.
Susie wouldn’t let herself be foisted with Carrie Brownstein’s character.
I don’t give a s–t that your uncle f–ked you, get the hell out, this is my business. You’re not fucking with my business. I don’t care about these namby-pamby men, Jimmy Kimmel and Marty Short and Larry are all too sensitive. “She’s got a limp.” Susie don’t give a s—t.
I think we all have a Susie Greene in our lives. But we don’t all like her. You like her.
Oh, I love her. I love her. And Show Larry, even though he’s very different from that character, he loves that character. How many times have you seriously wanted to kick people out of your house? I’ve never kicked anybody out of my house. On the show I get to. Susie Greene, nothing’s eating her up. Get the f–k out. That’s it.