How Allison Jones Ended Up Appearing in ‘Barry,’ ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

Emmy-nominee Sherry Thomas, together with showrunners Alec Berg and Jeff Schaffer, clarify the ins and outs of casting a really explicit function.


Casting administrators sometimes work offscreen, sifting by dozens, if not tons of, of self-taped auditions and in-person periods to seek out the proper performers for every pivotal function. However what if the proper performer is the casting director? What in the event that they’re requested to behave on not one, however two Emmy-nominated HBO comedies? What if, quite than sitting behind a desk, they’re requested to sit down behind a desk in entrance of a digicam?

Properly, in case you’re Allison Jones, you do your job — even when its unconventional accompaniments aren’t precisely attractive.

“She approached it someplace between getting a deadly injection and a root canal,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” showrunner Jeff Schaffer mentioned about Jones’ look in Season 11. “She’s like, ‘Actually? You don’t want me to do that.’ We’re like, ‘No, no, we do. We do.’”

In her day job, Jones is an business titan. She’s accountable for the ensembles of “Freaks and Geeks,” “The Workplace” (U.S.), “Curb,” and “Veep” — and people are simply her reveals with Emmy nominations. (She received 3 times: first for “Freaks and Geeks” and twice for “Veep.”) Jones additionally labored on “Parks and Recreation,” “What We Do within the Shadows,” “The Good Place,” and “Arrested Growth,” plus steered casting for movies like “The 40-12 months-Previous Virgin,” “Borat,” “Superbad,” “Bridesmaids,” “Eighth Grade,” “Booksmart,” and “Girl Chook.”

However as an actor, her prior work was restricted to a cameo in “The Workplace” finale as “Lady Guarding PBS Swag on the Warehouse” and one other blink-and-you-miss-it stint on “Arrested Growth.” In a 2013 interview with The AV Membership, Jones mentioned each televised gigs had been favors to the showrunners, Mitch Hurwitz and Greg Daniels, and “not my cup of tea.”

For the betterment of every program, Jones might be seen in current episodes of “Barry” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” first reprising her function on Invoice Hader and Alec Berg’s darkish comedy after which showing for the primary time on Larry David and Jeff Schaffer’s iconic sitcom. Each reveals happen in Los Angeles, and each skewer the leisure business, however Jones is simply the casting director for “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Her function in “Barry” happened because of its casting director, nine-time Emmy nominee Sherry Thomas, in addition to the Hollywood satire’s dedication to meta humor.

Again in 2019, Jones performed herself in Season 2, Episode 7 of “Barry,” aptly titled “The Audition.” Her scene sees Barry (Invoice Hader) auditioning for a comedy movie Jones is engaged on with Jay Roach, the “Austin Powers” and “Meet the Mother and father” director.

“We simply thought, ‘Oh, it is a comedy and who’s the man that might be directing it? It will be Jay Roach,’” Berg mentioned. Roach, Hader, and Berg had identified one another “simply eternally,” however Thomas mentioned there could have been one more reason his title was on the prime of the listing.

“Typically it simply comes right down to the sound of a reputation that’s humorous to them,” she mentioned. “They suppose listening to Barry say the sound of this title is humorous. Invoice and I’ve a extremely attention-grabbing means of working collectively. More often than not I’m like, ‘Properly, so do you will have a prototype? Is there anyone?’ He’ll speak by the character factors, after which most of the time, he does the voice of the character. So I’ve the notes of the character after which he does the voice and the cadence and the sound. That actually connects me to the character. And I’m going, ‘I do know who it’s.’”

Casting Jones got here right down to widespread sense. Within the scene, Roach would naturally be joined by his casting director and their affiliate to assist decide, and Thomas, Hader, and Berg all thought Jones would take advantage of sense to play a top-tier casting director of high-profile comedies. Earlier than reaching out to Jones, Thomas mentioned they did think about different precise casting administrators, however confronted repeated and emphatic resistance.

“Once I approached a unique casting director, she was like, ‘I don’t do on-camera, and I by no means will,’” Thomas mentioned. “I used to be like, ‘OK, thanks a lot.’”

Jones had an analogous first response. “We’re casting administrators for a purpose,” Thomas remembers Jones saying when first approached about performing. Finally, she got here round, although nobody knew her half would return and broaden in future episodes.

Barry Season 3 HBO Bill Hader

Invoice Hader in “Barry”

Merrick Morton/ HBO

Casting real-life figures as themselves is each a joyful and needed side of the job, however it might get sophisticated. Jon Hamm, as an example, has performed Jon Hamm in each “Barry” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — showing in a fantasy sequence through the former’s inaugural season and as an actor finding out to painting Larry David within the newest version of “Curb” — and his comical contributions proved to be an irreplaceable delight. However actors are used to popping out and in of productions, their itineraries frequently shifted by managers and brokers. Different calendars are extra inflexible, and Jones’ schedule is usually dictated by the a number of reveals she’s working to fill. Her docket isn’t a day right here or a half-day there; it’s working till the present is able to shoot, regardless of how lengthy which will take.

“We’re actually busy,” Thomas mentioned. “Folks don’t perceive the internal workings of what we do as casting administrators. That may be a working workplace, nonstop. So I’m positive [taking time to act in ‘Barry’ and ‘Curb’] affected lots of the labor that’s occurring in there.”

To additional compound the dedication, Jones’ function in “Barry” Season 3 was larger than earlier than.

“Once I noticed the drafts of Season 3, I simply was like, ‘Oh my God. That is an precise scene,’” Thomas mentioned. “It wasn’t like simply sitting there subsequent to [Jay Roach]. So I referred to as her and I mentioned, ‘You’re a recurring character now. And you’ve got, like, a scene.”

“I feel what she mentioned was, ‘That is an excessive amount of, I can’t do that. That is an precise scene,’” Thomas mentioned. “However Invoice and Alec are so good. They simply write inside what is meant to be occurring. If there was a wrestle on any stage, they’d simply modulate it. They might simply tailor the scene to each of them. They had been nice.”

“Each of them” which means Jones and her decade-plus casting affiliate Ben Harris. Similar to in precise auditions, Harris might be seen studying with actors in scenes of “Barry” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

“We put Ben on the present some time in the past,” Schaffer mentioned. “As a result of he would all the time learn [in casting sessions,] and the persons are like, ‘You’re nice. It’s best to simply [act.]’ So we’d throw him in.”

Harris shouldn’t be in Season 3 — when Barry approaches Jones at her workplace, attempting to barter a component for Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) — however he’s within the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” premiere, recommending candidates to Larry (Larry David) and Allison (Allison Jones). The staff is attempting to solid Larry’s onscreen daughter in his semi-autobiographical Netflix present, however Ben and Allison are at midnight about one key issue: Larry is being blackmailed. If he doesn’t need to be sued, he has to ensure Maria Sofia (a horrible actor performed by the hilarious Keyla Monterroso Mejia) will get the half.

Jon Hamm Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 11

Jon Hamm in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

John P. Johnson / HBO

“So Alison, once we instructed her about this concept, we’re like, ‘Why not simply get Alison and Ben to do it?’ She was like, ‘Oh I had to do that on ‘Barry’ — which we didn’t learn about,” Schaffer mentioned. “However we’re like, ‘Yeah, it’s a must to do that, you must do that.”

For Schaffer, Jones was the one individual for the half.

“She’s achieved this a lot, she will function on intuition,” he mentioned. “She’s seen that situation so many occasions: of seeing individuals you want, after which Maria Sophia was so horrible and so odd. All Allison needed to do was be Allison Jones. And he or she was, which, by the best way, isn’t all the time straightforward. It’s not all the time straightforward for individuals to only be who they’re. She and Ben, they had been nice. Their reactions had been so sincere, versus an actor taking part in a casting director. That’s what I actually appreciated.”

Such authenticity is what Hollywood satires like “Barry” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” have to succeed. Not solely does the meta layer of hiring an actual actor, producer, or casting director add an thrilling Easter egg for comedy followers, it additionally grounds the acute actions of each reveals in a world indistinguishable from our personal. Perhaps there’s not a skilled murderer exhibiting as much as Hollywood auditions in between hits, however “Barry” wants you to spend money on that actuality to ensure that its characters and commentary to resonate. And whereas no human being might probably create as many awkward, embarrassing eventualities as Larry David, the want success aspect of his antics solely satisfies if we acknowledge some reality in his intentions, in his decisions, and in Larry himself.

Elite casting administrators like Sherry Thomas and Allison Jones know this. It’s how they do their jobs so nicely, day in and time out. So when it’s their flip to sit down below the lights, they know they should do it. In spite of everything, it’s what’s finest for the present, and to them, that’s all the time the primary precedence.

“Barry” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” can be found from HBO.

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