Jeff Garlin debuts ''I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With'' at Tribeca. Larry David's ''Curb Your Enthusiasm'' sidekick has a side gig: director

By Gilbert Cruz
Updated May 08, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Jeff Garlin: Jim Spellman/WireImage.com

Jeff Garlin’s film, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, wins the award for most intriguing title at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The Curb Your Enthusiasm sidekick’s directorial debut, which also stars funny ladies Bonnie Hunt, Sarah Silverman, and Amy Sedaris, has been charming festivalgoers with its semiautobiographical story of an overweight struggling actor and his search for love. The genial actor talks to EW about his influences, his run-in with John Waters, and exactly what he will and won’t do for money.

How autobiographical is this movie?
Everything was changed, but it was influenced by something that really happened. It wasn’t like: I’m going to do this because it’s autobiographical, or it’s personal, or I’m going to work things out through therapy on screen. No. I did it for entertainment value and hope that people are entertained by it.

It was a lot more bittersweet than I expected it to be.
Everyone has that reaction, because everyone thinks it’s going to be some broad comedy, which is not my style. Or they think it’s going to be a romantic comedy, a Failure To Launch type of thing. I’m influenced by Woody Allen, by movies like Crimes and Misdemeanors.

You’ve already directed another movie, right?
I just directed John Waters’ one-man show, called This Filthy World. My contribution as a director was to have nobody notice me, just make it feel like you’re sitting in the audience watching. The way I direct is what I’d like to see. I don’t want [to direct] movies with the thought of who’s going to be watching this, or that I have to tailor it to this audience or that audience. Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s a perfect example. I think that one of the reasons it’s funny is because we did what we thought was funny, as opposed to trying to tailor it to somebody. That’s the problem with studio comedies: They’re always trying to tailor it for the largest common denominator and by doing that, they tailor it, really, to stupid people.

Will you write again?
I’m starting to write a movie on Friday, an improvised movie that is completely and utterly not autobiographical. As of right now, it’s sort of about FM radio, like a classic rock station. And I know that I’ll be the morning guy in the movie. That’s all I know. [The script] will probably be 20 to 25 pages, and we’ll improvise the rest.

So are you done with studio movies?
Here’s the thing: I won’t make a penny off this movie. I hope my investors get all their money back, plus a profit, but I’m not going to get rich off this movie. So, yeah, I’m going to do studio movies. I am more than happy to whore — yes, whore — myself out as an actor. I have appeared, and will appear, in crappy movies for money. I don’t care. I won’t direct crappy movies, but, as an actor, [you work] a week and you make a ton of money and the movie is a piece of crap? Great, let’s go, where do we start?

You have anything coming up along those lines? [Laughs]
No, but I really hope one comes in because I have two children in private school and a mortgage.

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