Take one look at the IMDb page of Mark Atteberry, and you’ll see some impressive feature titles such as David Fincher’s Gone Girl and Ang Lee’s Hulk, as well as a long list of series like For the People and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But when the actor virtually sat down with Casting Networks, it was his recent, recurring role that was on the table. Keep reading for a window into how Atteberry got cast in season 11 of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
It’s great to virtually see you, Mark. What can you tell us about the character of Councilman Weinblatt?
He’s the head city council member of the Santa Monica City Council who tries to keep their meetings under control. It was a fun role to get to play because my brother just retired from being the city manager of Fort Collins, Colorado for the last 27 years. I’ve watched quite a few of his city council meetings over the years and have witnessed how people can get a little crazy during them. The public’s allowed to come and say whatever they want, and my brother would always handle it really well when things got rowdy. So I got a chance to channel him a bit with the character of Councilman Weinblatt, who’s just trying to keep the Santa Monica City Council meetings sane.
How fun to have such a personal connection to the role! Can share about the process of booking it?
I got the self-tape audition request right after I wrapped filming an episode of This Is Us. So I was coming off working a great show and fired up to book another one. Since I do far more drama than comedy, I was already excited to get Curb Your Enthusiasm, and then it also happens to be my wife’s favorite show. Plus, it’s always an honor to get an audition from the likes of [casting director] Allison Jones. The self-tape was fun to do because Curb Your Enthusiasm is an all-improv show — there’s no script. You get an outline with sections that maybe ask you to try and cover a certain topic or say a few particular words. But basically, you get an idea of what they’re generally going for and then run with it.
That’s such a fascinating way to work! And your audition was similar?
Yes, I got two different paragraphs of scenarios that I had to basically improv. I called up my brother and had him give me a few great lines he’d heard during actual city council meetings. So I was able to use those as a launching point and then just jumped in full force with the improv. I really enjoyed doing the self-tape and then just put it out of my mind after submitting it like I do with every audition. Then I got a call about booking a different show I worked last year and was on the phone telling my wife that good news when the Curb Your Enthusiasm call came in. After hearing I’d booked it, too, I just went into this hyperspace of excitement. I was driving on Ventura Boulevard and had to pull over to the side of the road and just scream out the window. [Laughs] I remember I was right outside a FedEx.
[Laughs] I don’t blame you, considering you’d just booked two series in one day. That’s the dream, as is getting to work with comedy legends Larry David and Tracey Ullman. How was that?
It was definitely intimidating because they’re both comedic geniuses and masters of their genre. Tracey is brilliant at sketch comedy, and Larry is just so good at the type of improv comedy that is Curb Your Enthusiasm. Pretty much everyone in the show is just reacting to the antics of their two characters, holding steady and playing the comedy straight. So that was a challenge to keep it together when you’ve got Tracey just throwing out these hysterical lines. She’s so unpredictable. It’s great — you never know what she’s going to say. When it came to my own improv, it was nice to have training in that area. I used to do improv shows every weekend and learned the importance of completely trusting your gut and going with it. Improvising with Larry and Tracey was a masterclass in itself and just a great learning experience.
Years ago when I was a musician, I got to meet Count Basie and play with him. He told me something I’ll never forget. “The reason I’m Count Basie today is because I never played with anyone less than my level,” he said. “I always play with people better than me — that’s how you become successful.” Apply the idea to acting, and my experience with Curb Your Enthusiasm felt very much in line with his advice.
Thanks for sharing those words of wisdom from an icon, as well as how they applied to your experience on the show. And before we wrap, I’d love to hear how booking the recurring role on Curb Your Enthusiasm has impacted your career since.
I actually shot it at the beginning of last year, and since I was able to work in a way I never had before with improvising the scenes, it amped up my confidence. I think that parlayed well into the rest of 2021 because I went into all my auditions after that with a higher level of confidence. I ended up having a really awesome year of work and booked eight shows in total. I can’t mention some ones that haven’t released yet, but I can say American Horror Story, which I’ve always been curious to do. The same goes for American Crime Story with its most recent Impeachment season. So the experience on Curb Your Enthusiasm was really helpful and led to other bookings — I’m incredibly proud of some really awesome things that will be coming out this year.
Those interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look at Atteberry’s time on the Larry David comedy can find him on Instagram as @markatteberry. You can also learn more about the actor and his career journey on Atteberry’s official site.
This interview has been edited and condensed.