How Troy Kotsur Reached ‘Curb’ Cameo Greatness | Esquire

Troy Kotsur is the latest victim of Larry David’s carnival of torment in Curb Your Enthusiasm’s final season, but “victim” isn’t a word that the Academy Award Oscar-winning actor throws around lightly. The CODA star’s mission to show that deaf people don’t have limits—and his 2022 sweep at the Oscars, SAG Awards, BAFTAs, and the Critics Choice Awards certainly went a long way to prove that mantra. “I always try to emphasize that I want to avoid portraying a victim, or a character of sympathy,” Kotsur tells me over Zoom. “What, because we can’t hear? Throw that out the window. Deaf people can play the hero. Deaf people have a sense of humor.”

Kotsur flexed those comedy chops in Sunday night’s Curb episode, titled “Vertical Drop, Horizontal Tug,” when David’s incoming golf ball hits him in the back, because he couldn’t hear him scream, “Fore!” Kotsur appears as himself in the episode, which he views as an honor. “This is who I am,” the 55-year-old says of the role. “I’m not a character. They’ve had so many different celebrities throughout the years of Curb. I’m so honored to be able to play myself and be in this messed-up situation with Larry.”

As an added bonus, even Kotsur’s gracious interpreter, Justin Maurer—who was also present for this interview—took a few jabs at David during the episode. “I was like, ‘Why is he talking to me?’ Maurer tells me, recalling how surprised he was by David’s improv skills. “I had the basic plot, but I wasn’t fully aware of what would happen,” Kotsur adds. “Our director, Jeff Schaffer, told me, ‘Don’t go through any of your lines until we shoot it.'” This, of course, is how Curb magic has been brewed for the past 23 years. “And it was brilliant,” Kotsur says.

Below, Kotsur shares more about working with David, seeing opportunities grow for deaf actors since CODA’s Best Picture win, and chasing down some crazy kids after they (briefly!) stole his Oscar.

ESQUIRE: What’s it like to work with Larry David?

KOTSUR: Larry is mischievous. He’s like a clown on and off set, because when he’s not on set, he’s still fooling around. Humor is the best medicine. It’s priceless. In one scene, he’s throwing bagels at me. When we were shooting, he was like, “Can I throw another one? How about another one?” He had this huge bag of bagels. If he missed, we would have take after take. And he really seemed to enjoy it. That’s just part of his personality—he’s a little kid inside.

Were you a Curb fan before your appearance in this episode?

Oh yeah. I used to collect DVDs of Curb. My wife, Deanne Brey, was actually the deaf woman in the episode “The Rat Dog” in 2007. Finally, in 2024, I can check it off my bucket list for the final season.

No one seems to believe Larry when he says that this is the final season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Do you think he’ll ever write more episodes?

I can’t imagine him really being finished. I feel like there would be something missing without Curb. How could Larry surpass Curb? If you have the answer, let me know.

Click to read the full interview here: