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A Terse Interview With Larry David

A Terse Interview With Larry David (photo)

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Jewish-American funnymen Larry David and Woody Allen, the “last of the schlemiels” as a recent New York magazine cover story dubbed them, have technically collaborated three times now. David — the co-creator of “Seinfeld” and HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (its seventh season will premiere this fall) — had bit roles in Allen’s “Radio Days” (as a Communist neighbor) and his segment of the “New York Stories” omnibus (as a theater manager). But in the new comedy “Whatever Works,” the Woodster’s long-awaited return to NYC filmmaking, David slouches front and center as Boris Yellnikoff, a misanthropic former physicist who takes an impressionable Southern runaway (Evan Rachel Wood) under his wing. My ears hadn’t yet popped as I landed in Oklahoma City for the deadCENTER Film Festival a mere 15 minutes before talking to David by phone. Much like his other interviews, the guy certainly doesn’t give journalists much to work with, which I soon called him on.

Mr. David?

[crunching] I’m eating a pretzel.

I’m glad I caught you. I just got off a plane in Oklahoma City.

Is that where you are? Is the pretzel bothering you?

Not at all. So, I read that Woody Allen wrote “Whatever Works” back in the ’70s, and I’m curious if you had any involvement in reshaping the character or story for the present day.

I didn’t have anything to do with that. I know there was a reference or two about my being bald, so I’m sure once I got the part, he did a little bit of work on it. I wasn’t even aware that it was written for Zero Mostel in the ’70s until a few weeks ago. I just worked off the script.

Why do you think people assume Boris is meant as the film’s stand-in for Woody?

They do that with all his movies, though. They think all his movies are autobiographical and I’m sure it bothers him, because it’s not the case. Obviously, part of him has to be in some of the characters, but that’s not to say that the character is him.

Throughout the film, Boris claims to be a genius. Have you ever met a bona fide genius?

Probably. Woody Allen is somebody I could put in that character, but other than that, no.

You’ve never met another genius?

Who? My cousin Arthur? I don’t know.

Boris has to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing his hands. Are you OCD about anything?

I am, yes. I don’t like to say anything good. I feel like I’ll jinx myself. Like, if I’m playing golf or something, I won’t even say to somebody, “Boy, I’m really playing great today.” Because then, I’ll go right into the toilet. So I always refrain from any kind of immodest remark.

06172009_WhateverWorks2.jpgYou’re just always waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Yes, exactly. And it does, without fail.

Boris is similarly exasperated like your character on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” With what personality traits does the fake Larry end and the real one begin?

From the character I play on the show? The only difference is he’s much more honest than I am. He’s brutally honest, and I am not. People seem to think that he’s cranky, I get that. I don’t see him as a curmudgeon. I just think he’s honest, and he gets in confrontations with people because he’s honest. I am not honest. Because of this very delicate, socially balanced world we live in, you can’t talk like that.

Boris is a vehement atheist. Do you have any spiritual beliefs?

I do, yes. I’m not like that. I believe in something.

Care to elaborate?

No, it’s corny enough as it is. [laughs]

Especially after shooting in New York, what do you miss most about living there?

Knicks. Yankees.

What do you miss least?

The cold.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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