‘Seinfeld’: Why Jason Alexander ‘Had a Wary Eye’ on Julia Louis-Dreyfus When the Show Started
Seinfeld is still considered one of NBC’s most successful sitcoms. Making household names of Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine), Jason Alexander (George), and Michael Richards (Kramer), the show is still beloved by fans despite going off the air over 20 years ago.
Alexander revealed that he was concerned of being edged out of the series when Louis-Dreyfus was cast.
The ‘Seinfeld’ cast needed a female
In the book Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV by former NBC President of Entertainment Warren Littlefield, the network exec shared that only the three male cast members were signed on when Seinfeld began taking shape. Testing showed they needed a female to balance things out.
“Women especially hated the show,” Glenn Padnick, President of Castle Rock Television, said. “The typical response is to add a person from the group who likes the show least.”
After word got out that Seinfeld was casting, actors including Megan Mullally and Rosie O’Donnell read for the role. Yet Louis-Dreyfus nailed the character of Elaine Benis on her first try.
“I knew when I met Julia that she was the girl,” Seinfeld revealed. “I don’t think I could possibly have realized how perfect the chemistry would be.”
‘Seinfeld’ emulated Larry David’s life
While the series highlighted the life of Seinfeld (hence the name), much of the show was based on the background of co-creator Larry David. The character of Elaine represented someone from David’s inner circle.
“Larry had had a relationship with woman named Monica Yates,” Padnick explained. “After they stopped dating, they remained friends, and Larry used that relationship as the model for what Jerry and Elaine’s relationship would be.”
When Alexander caught wind of a female being added to the cast, he had some questions.
“Jerry told me, ‘There’s going to be a girl on the show, but she’s not my girlfriend,'” Alexander recalled, asking Seinfeld, “‘All right. Who is she?'”
Seinfeld replied, “‘She’s like my best friend.'”
Alexander was a bit perplexed. “‘I said, I thought George was your best friend,'” he responded.
Jason Alexander had a talk with Larry David
The Seinfeld actor was initially concerned that the dynamic of one woman being in a group of friends with three men wouldn’t go over well. He found himself circumspect of Louis-Dreyfus’ role.
“I actually had a wary eye on Julia,” Alexander admitted. “I knew you didn’t do a show with three guys and one girl. You did a show with two guys and one girl.”
When Richards and Alexander were left out of an early episode, the Pretty Woman star voiced his frustration to David.
“In those first four shows, they made one that George and Kramer weren’t in,” Alexander recalled. “That’s when I famously went to Larry and said, ‘If you do that again, you’ll have to do it permanently.'”
Clearly, Alexander didn’t have to worry. Seinfeld became one of television’s most legendary sitcoms that turned the cast of four into superstars.
“The show was theater,” Alexander remarked. “It spoiled me. … It was a dream job.”