June 18, 2009 / 5:04 PM / 10 years ago

Larry David takes acting turn for Woody Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - While many A-list stars list Woody Allen as the director they most want to work with, comedian Larry David was not fawning for a chance to collaborate with the creator of such hits as “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

Writer and actor Larry David, who stars in the new film by director Woody Allen "Whatever Works" poses for photographs in New York, June 11, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“It wasn’t really a burning ambition. Acting is not the top of my list of things to do,” said David, who made his name as co-creator and writer of the hit 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld” and now improvises a self-caricature in the HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Indeed, the 61-year-old said he thought Allen was making a mistake by casting him in Allen’s new film, “Whatever Works.”

“I was a little intimidated at first, I didn’t want to be the guy to screw up Woody Allen’s movie,” David said, insisting he is not really an actor at all. “I called him up and I said, ‘I think you are making a mistake.’”

While David calls the movie a Woody Allen “gem” and insists he is “very pleased and satisfied” with it, few critics agree.

“On the plus side, Allen avoids the creepy ventriloquist effect of a younger actor mouthing his words and intonations by choosing as raucously individualistic a performer as David,” Variety wrote of the film, which opens on Friday.

“But by forcing David, a total improviser who rarely delivers scripted lines, to incant impossibly long monologues ... Allen the director loses sight of what works.”

David has completed filming and is now editing the seventh season of his television show “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which starts up on HBO in September. He said he does not know if this season will be its last.

During its upcoming season, he says he fights with Rosie O’Donnell and has episodes with top stars of “Seinfeld.”

David says the rude, abrasive character he plays on his show is him, but without the social boundaries of real life, and that people often mistake him for his TV incarnation.

That, he says, gives his liberty to behave like his TV character. “I can be a little more honest. If they treat me like the character, they will get the character,” he says.

People often tell him funny things that happened to them, thinking it would be great material for his show.

“They are never any good,” he said. “Now I just tell people, ‘Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know,’ and they think I’m rude.”

Editing by Patricia Zengerle

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