J.B. Smoove: “I like to dive in there and have fun so I can have an honest reaction. A lot of things you can’t get on paper”

When J.B. Smoove appeared seemingly out of nowhere as the Hurricane Edna-displaced Leon Black in the sixth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, most probably didn’t guess that Smoove would continue to guest appear in episodes in the subsequent two seasons.

Yet even less people were aware that Smoove has a long history in comedy, including a stint as a writer on Saturday Night Live.  In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Smoove speaks not only about his role on Curb Your Enthusiasm, but also his very different role in Cameron Crowe‘s film We Bought a Zoo.

Smoove admits that his role in We Bought a Zoo required a much different approach than being Leon Black.  He explains, “Cameron [Crowe] was a big fan of Curb. He’s so free and open. He allowed me to come in and have a take on the character. It’s not a slapstick comedy. There are funny moments to this movie, but this character had to come from a real place, as opposed to going over the top with him. I play a Realtor. It opens up my range as far as what I can play. It gives people a chance to see me doing something different, other than Leon, this loud character.”  Still, it’s hard to imagine Smoove having trouble with any comedy role considering his writing background and the improv nature of Curb.  When asked about how much of Curb is scripted, Smoove points out, “No script. It’s a like a seven-page outline. I’ve seen it maybe twice since I’ve been working there. I don’t wanna read what’s going on. I like to go to the set, get into my wardrobe and then find out in the moment what’s going on. I like to be fresh. I like to dive in there and have fun so I can have an honest reaction. A lot of things you can’t get on paper. Some things only happen one time. On Curb, I go for the jugular vein every time.”

We Bought a Zoo opens December 23.  Curb Your Enthusiasm will return whenever Larry David feels like making more episodes.