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12 Actors Who Were on Curb Your Enthusiasm Before They Were Famous

12 Actors Who Were on Curb Your Enthusiasm Before They Were Famous


  • As a cult favorite,
    Curb Your Enthusiasm
    thrives on unhinged satire of social norms with comedy legend Larry David at the helm.
  • The show’s success lies in simple, believable scenarios in LA, populated by talented performers elevating Larry’s antics to absurd heights.
  • Early spots on the show helped launch actors like Anton Yelchin, Kaitlin Olson, Bobby Lee, Melissa McCarthy, Bob Odenkirk, and more into stardom.



Ever since its debut in 2000, Curb Your Enthusiasm has branded itself as a cult favorite. The reason? It delivers an unhinged and biting satire of everyday social cues and mannerisms. Led by comedy legend Larry David, who plays a semi-fictionalized version of himself, the hit HBO sitcom is all about having a laugh as Larry gets into some well-intentioned misadventures and somehow makes things worse with his ways.

Curb Your Enthusiasm was a standout because it never relied on complicated plots or subtexts – it simply threw Larry into the most awkward and believable situations in Los Angeles. With no laugh track to guide reactions, the series’ own ability to churn out hilarious scenarios was genuinely remarkable.

Central to Curb Your Enthusiasm’s success were the talented performers that showed up in Larry’s world. Of course, no one was more maladjusted and egoistical than Larry David himself, but supporting players like Richard Lewis, Ted Danson, Jeff Garlin and Cheryl Hines as his long-suffering wife elevated the absurdity. Along with some mainstays, there were integrated cameos from big name comedians as well as actors who were yet to hold their own. This list focuses on just that. We have narrowed down 12 actors who got early spots on Curb Your Enthusiasm and were then launched into unexpected stardom.

12 Anton Yelchin

In Episode 33, “The Blind Date,” Anton Yelchin delivered a memorable and hilarious performance as Stewart, Cheryl’s cousin. On a couple of occasions, he would refuse to give up the secret of his card tricks, and even when Larry got angry, he wouldn’t budge. He was just a teenager at the time, but Yelchin stole his scenes with effortless comic timing and the ability to hold his own against series veteran Larry David.

Yelchin Found Success in Star Trek

After his introduction to American audiences on Curb, Yelchin went on to prove himself as one of the most talented performers of his generation. His most acclaimed outing was in the Star Trek reboot, a role that established him as a skilled actor. Yelchin also stars in movies like Alpha Dog, Green Room, and Like Crazy. Tragically, Yelchin would suddenly pass away in mid 2016, with his last film role being in 2017’s We Don’t Belong Here.

11 Kaitlin Olson

Before spending over a decade honing her skills playing a character who is equal parts pathetic and outrageous (yes, we’re talking about Sweet Dee on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Kaitlin Olson had viewers do a double take on her brief but remarkable turn as Cheryl’s sister, Becky, in Episode 8, “Beloved Aunt.” She originally had a smaller role that saw her butting heads with Larry over relationship squabbles. Only recently, she returned for a longer stint and dated Larry for a brief period of time in Season 10, starting with Episode 98, “Elizabeth, Margaret, and Larry.”

It’s Always Sunny for Kaitlin Olson

Olson’s razor-sharp humor and confidence came to define her career, before she was eventually chosen to play Dee on FX’s longest-running series. She would later star in movies like The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, as well as Leap Year with Amy Adams. Olson would even get a lead role in her very own series, The Mick, which ran for a modest two seasons on Fox.

10 Bobby Lee

Bobby Lee, a stand-up comedian and actor, popped up in a hilarious role as a Korean bookie named Sung in Episode 49 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which was also titled “The Korean Bookie.” Even in a tiny part, watching Lee screw Larry over was genuinely funny and infectious. It is true that his comedic stylings were beyond honed by the time Curb Your Enthusiasm called him in. After all, Lee was quite well-known on the LA stand-up circuit, and he was the first Asian cast member on MADtv.

Bobby Lee Has Explored Multiple Roles

But in the years since, Lee has transformed into an unstoppable scene-stealing comedian whose fearless improv skills garnered massive acclaim. He has had small roles in a series of comedies. As one third of the beloved no-holds-barred podcast TigerBelly, he has also proven himself as someone whose opinions on pop culture and life are worth tuning in for.

He is also the co-host of the Bad Friends podcast with Andrew Santino (Ricky Stanicky), and he’s currently slated to play the role of Larry in Eli Roth’s upcoming film adaptation of the Borderlands video game series. One of his latest roles was in the Johnny Knoxville dramedy Sweet Dreams.

9 Oscar Nunez

You probably know him as the smartest guy in one of the most hilarious workplace comedy sitcoms of all time. But before Oscar Nunez became Oscar Martinez, he delivered an understated performance as a parking lot attendant on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Coincidentally, it also doubled as his first-ever television role. Episode 5, “Interior Decorator,” sees Nunez putting on a thick Mexican accent and arguing with Larry about the most trivial matters. In this case, a series of errors puts Larry in a pickle when he can’t get his car parked.

Oscar Nunez Found Success in The Office

Nunez then found mainstream success in The Office, where he was endlessly entertaining, vibing along with the surrounding zaniness at Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch. In acclaimed films like The Proposal, The 33, and The Lost City as well, he has continued to lend his humor. Even though Curb Your Enthusiasm was relatively early in his career, it helped Nunez prove his potential. His latest television role was in the now-canceled AMC series Lucky Hank, where he starred alongside Bob Odenkirk.


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8 Melissa McCarthy

One of the most versatile actresses of our time and recipient of two Primetime Emmy Awards, Melissa McCarthy is an essential part of modern cinema and television. In Episode 37, “The Surrogate,” McCarthy played the role of a salesperson at a toy store. She has an awkward interaction with Larry where she is all smiles while listening to him talk about biracial dolls.

McCarthy Became a Household Name

Not a household name at the time, McCarthy infused her character with the same inquisitive charm, compassion, and intelligence that would define her in The WB’s hit comedy drama, Gilmore Girls. Following that, McCarthy has won credits in hits likeBridesmaids, Spy, Ghostbusters, and more. Today, she continues to expand the idea of what female stars can accomplish, with her latest role being in Donna Stankowski’s 2024 Netflix comedy Unfrosted.

7 Bob Odenkirk

A then little-known Bob Odenkirk delivered a pitch-perfect performance in Curb Your Enthusiasm as Gil, a former adult film star who offered Cheryl an unfiltered glimpse into his career while sitting next to her at a dinner party. The episode was, quite unsurprisingly, titled “Porno Gil,” and it showed Odenkirk’s mastery of bizarre characterization and timing. Though he had a brief stint on Saturday Night Live as well as his own show on HBO with David Cross, Mr. Show with Bob and David, his career really started to take off after his brief time on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Bob Odenkirk Became a “Criminal” Lawyer

Odenkirk then took those skills to new heights with his career-defining role as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad. A perfect comedic foil to the drug-making antics of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul), Odenkirk’s performance is easily one of the most well-regarded aspects of the series as a whole. Odenkirk was so popular, his character even got his own spin-off series, Better Call Saul, which allowed him to channel both comedy and drama in an unforgettable lead role. Odenkirk has also starred in a bunch of other shows and movies, including FX’s Fargo and Nobody. His genius for making characters feel real continues to mesmerize us.

6 Stephen Colbert

In Episode 40 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, “Opening Night,” Stephen Colbert played an aggressive New York tourist who asks Larry to take a picture of him with his wife. But an argument erupts between the two after Larry fails and Colbert’s character puts a curse on him. With the subtle hilarity he infused in that brief exchange, Colbert left viewers wanting to see more of his unique and sharp sense of humor.

Colbert Took Over Late-Night

Of course, Colbert soon rocketed to superstar status when he started hostingThe Colbert Report in 2005. Through the show, he reinvented political satire in a way that’s just as commanding and relevant today. Currently, Colbert hosts The Late Show, and has been doing so after taking over for David Letterman in 2015. Naturally, when Larry showed up as a guest on The Late Show, the two looked back on their time working together.

5 Doug Benson

Doug Benson has a very small role in Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Episode 16, “The Acupuncturist,” where he plays Barry’s cousin. He wasn’t an established name then, which is why Benson’s character was easily missable. But since then, he has endeared himself to audiences with his iconic comedic sensibilities.

A Cameo Exploded Into Something Much Greater

He starred in the movie Super High Me, which is a cult favorite and enthusiastic documentary surrounding weed culture and its physiological effects. Benson went on to host numerous podcasts like Doug Loves Movies and Getting Doug with High, where he pushed the boundaries of the medium and explored thought-provoking ideas, proving comedy can be about and achieve much more. He would also drift in and out of the world of television and film, voicing Bane in The Lego Batman Movie and starring as himself in the FX series You’re the Worst.

4 Jorge Garcia

In Episode 36, “The Car Pool Lane,” Jorge Garcia played a drug dealer. The conversation between Jorge’s character and Larry revolves around smoking cannabis to help with his eyesight, which is a classic Curb Your Enthusiasm scenario. From Larry’s over-the-top hilarity to Garcia’s deadpan reaction, every aspect of the episode is unique and effortless.

Jorge Garcia Found Success in Lost

In a matter of months, Garcia found worldwide fame by starring in Lost, where he brought heart and humor as lottery winner Hugo “Hurley” Reyes. He was also a member of the main cast in Hawaii Five-0, playing the role of Jerry Ortega alongside other talents like Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Cann. In movies like Deck the Halls and The Ridiculous 6, Garcia balanced his dramatic skills with earnest laughter, with his latest role in the Max-exclusive series Bookie leaning more heavily into the latter.


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3 Zachary Levi

Another star who earned fame after his appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm is Zachary Levi. In a tiny but memorable role in “Opening Night” as an “unreliable” Bellman who simply wouldn’t get a tip from Larry, he delivered every line with a smooth and inventive charm. The episode also features Jerry Seinfeld’s first-ever appearance in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Zachary Levi Became a Superhero and a Spy

Levi has since become a familiar face, starring as Chuck Bartowski in the series Chuck, a spy-themed comedic drama about an average next-door nerd who ends up working for the CIA. Levi is also known for starring as the titular Shazam! in the DC hit film and its sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods. In projects like Tangled and The Star, he lent his immensely likable voice and wit to the characters of Flynn and Joseph, respectively. His latest role saw him replacing Mel Gibson’s performance in the long-awaited sequel to Chicken Run, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.

2 Ken Jeong

Ken Joeng had been making brief appearances in shows like Community, The Office, and Curb Your Enthusiasm before properly breaking out. In the latter, his character didn’t have an official name, and he showed up in Episode 52, which was titled “The Anonymous Donor.” Despite his incredibly minor role here, however, his success in the entertainment world afterward is nothing to scoff at.

From a Minor Comedic Role to a Competition Panelist

Since then, Jeong has emerged as one of comedy’s most adventurous performers. His role as Leslie Chow in The Hangover film series was a massive hit with critics and fans alike. Always taking risks in the comedy landscape, Jeong has added new dimensions to the genre with his acting, writing, and frenetic energy, later earning his own stand-up comedy special on top of starring in his own sitcom, Dr. Ken. Additionally, he is one of several panelists on the hit reality competition series TheMasked Singer.

1 Mindy Kaling

Just months after The Office first premiered on NBC, when Mindy Kaling still hadn’t established herself as the wildly delusional customer service representative at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, she landed a cameo in Curb Your Enthusiasm. She played Richard Lewis’ assistant in Episode 45, “Lewis Needs a Kidney.” She gets a call from Larry and bursts into tears after hearing that he is sick.

Mindy Kaling Starred in Her Own Series

Kaling later went on to co-create and star in The Mindy Project, where she candidly addressed topics related to romance, femininity, and adulthood. Even in movies like Late Night and Four Weddings and a Funeral, she brought the kind of quirkiness and hilarity that cemented her status as one of the industry’s most talented artists. Her most recent television project, Velma, has recently returned for Season 2, with Kaling voicing the title character once more.


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