‘Seinfeld’: Why Susan Ross Had to Be Killed Off on the NBC Hit Comedy
One of iconic comedy Seinfeld‘s most memorable storylines involved that of George Costanza’s relationship with his fiancée, Susan Ross, who meets an untimely death after licking closed her wedding invitation envelopes.
Jason Alexander, who played second banana to Jerry Seinfeld shared his thoughts on his character’s Susan years and how he felt about Heidi Swedberg, the actor who portrayed her.
Jason Alexander’s remarks about ‘Susan Ross’ actor, Heidi Swedberg
In a 2013 conversation with the Television Academy Foundation, Alexander spoke about almost every aspect of his career, especially about his role as George Costanza on Seinfeld. At one point, he touched on the plot line of Susan Ross becoming his character’s fiancée.
“[Swedberg] was cast, not on her ability as an actress,” he said, “which is not to say that she’s not a good actress, she’s a fine actress. But she was cast because she looked like an actual person at NBC in a role that was supposed to be one line and never heard from again.”
Alexander, 60, explained that, while Swedberg, who now works as a music educator, had been hired in a moment of “look-alike casting,” she eventually stayed on the series as George’s “girl.” But it wasn’t an acting match made in heaven, as far as Alexander was concerned.
“For whatever reason, I, Jason, found Heidi’s comedy instincts to be the opposite of mine,” he said. “So whatever I was trying to get going in a scene, I always felt like I was punching into Jell-O. I couldn’t get the right responses back.”
“I’m sure she felt the same way, but she’s the guest, she’s not going to complain about me.”
Trying to make George and Susan work
Alexander described trying different strategies and methods with his fellow actor, but with no success.
“I remember thinking,” he continued, “I can’t find a path with her, I’m always off, I’m just off trying to play against this actress. I don’t know why. It’s not that she was doing anything wrong, it was literally a chemical problem.”
He went on to say that when Larry David announced that Swedberg was being kept on to portray Costanza’s fiancée, he couldn’t even find the words to protest.
“‘You’re killing me,’ Alexander recalled telling David. “I don’t know how to work with her. It’s not that I don’t know how to work with her as a human being. I don’t know how to work with her as an actress. I just feel like we don’t have it for each other.'”
Nodding his head, Alexander imitated Larry David’s response to his argument. “He went, ‘That’s why! It’s great! What happens is, we’re neither rooting for you guys or against you guys.’ And that’s what Larry wanted.”
Why Susan had to go
As much as the actor claims he tried to make his situation known, nothing could be done to remedy it. He even mentioned it to co-stars Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards, who he claims just pooh-poohed his allegations.
“There were times,” he recalled, “when I would be very vocal about that with the gang and go, ‘I gotta tell you guys, it’s tough; I know you’re having a fun time, you’re laughing, and the scenes, I guess, are playing. I just gotta tell you, I’m way off kilter every time we do stuff. And they were like, ‘Oh, , she’s great, you’re great together, it’s Burns and Allen, blah blah blah.'”
Alexander explained when “the gang” finally saw what he had been trying to say.
Laughing, he concluded, “And then, finally, they had to do a big scene with her. And they had a similar problem. And that’s when we decided to kill her. That’s how that decision got made.”
Perhaps his conscience nagging at him a bit, the actor added, “Sorry, Heidi. I have to say, I know this is being archived. I really do like Heidi, I really do. I think she’s a lovely person, I’ve had wonderful conversations with her and she’s kind, and generous – and talented.”