Wayne Knight Wasn’t Exactly What ‘Seinfeld’ Creator, Larry David, Envisioned for Newman Initially

At its core, Seinfeld was about Jerry Seinfeld and his friends, Elaine Benes, George Costanza, and Cosmo Kramer, but the secondary characters were just as important. In fact, one secondary character quickly became a fan favorite. The mysterious Newman, portrayed by Wayne Knight, was Jerry’s nemesis, but did you know the role was originally written much differently?

Wayne Knight served as Jerry’s nemesis neighbor, Newman, on Seinfeld

Newman resided in the same building as Jerry and Kramer and worked as a postal worker. Little is known about his backstory, but he and Jerry were feuding from the moment Newman walked onto the show in season 3. The source of the animosity is never directly mentioned, but Newman often suggested Jerry was not deserving of his fame and fortune.

Wayne Knight as Newman on 'Seinfeld'
Wayne Knight as Newman on ‘Seinfeld’ | Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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As Kramer’s friend, Newman seemed like a good confidant but was what Jerry described as “pure evil.” Newman wasn’t just Jerry’s nemesis, though. He seemed to dislike much of Jerry’s core group of friends. In 2016, Newman was named one of the best TV villains of all time by Rolling Stone.

Newman was spoken about in season 2, but didn’t appear in person until season 3

Newman was first mentioned in season 2 of Seinfeld. In the episode “The Revenge,” Karmer mentions that Newman had called him repeatedly, threatening to end his life. It’s later revealed that Newman said he was going to jump off the roof, but jumped out of one of the lower windows. Newman is never seen in the episode, although he is heard yelling for Kramer. Larry David voiced Newman in the episode.

Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer, Wayne Knight as Newman
Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer and Wayne Knight as Newman | Byron Cohen/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The physical embodiment of Newman was not seen until the 15th episode of the third season. In the episode, Newman walks in to see Jerry with Gina, the girlfriend of a man in a coma. Newman threatened to tell Martin about Jerry and Gina’s relationship and eventually did.

The character was rewritten to accommodate Knight

The voice of Newman was markedly different than that of Knight’s, and that is because he wasn’t portrayed by Knight initially. According to TV Guide, that part of Newman was originally envisioned as being played by a Black actor. The original Newman was supposed to be the son of Jerry and Kramer’s landlord. The part was rewritten, and Knight was cast as the postal worker fans came to know and love.

Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld, Wayne Knight as Newman and Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer
Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld, Wayne Knight as Newman and Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer in ‘Seinfeld’ | Joey Delvalle/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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It is not known how large of a role the original Newman character was supposed to play in the series. Knight’s Newman appeared in 45 episodes of the series. 172 episodes of Seinfeld were filmed. The show ran on NBC from 1989 until 1998.