It is widely viewed by analysts and fans as, at worst, one of the best sitcoms and overall television shows ever produced, a show that was ultimately “about nothing.” Seinfeld remains a popular show despite the fact that a new episode has not been produced and aired in over 15 years, so much so that it is not unlikely that a rerun of the show is airing at some point via your cable or satellite television provider within 24 hours of you reading this sentence. The show is, for those who remain diehard watchers, a classic that continues to live up to this day.
Jerry Seinfeld played the role of the main character, one loosely based off of reality, but each of the other characters were just as important as was Jerry during the show’s nine seasons. This includes the role of George Costanza, the quirky and awkward friend of Jerry who struggled in both his personal and professional lives up through the final episodes of the program. When he was not accidentally (allegedly) killing his fiance, George was trying out new careers and boggling the mind of the infamous former owner of the New York Yankees who never showed his face on the show for some reason.
Jason Alexander, who played George from start to finish of the Seinfeld series, appeared on the Howard Stern Show on June 4 of this year to discuss, among other things, his iconic role. Alexander explained why the show chose to write George’s fiance off the show in such a harsh manner, and he also talked about how other famous actors almost instead got the role of George. It is probably, all things considered, for the best that it was Alexander who ended up winning/accepting the role in the end, as he proved to be the perfect sidekick for the Seinfeld character who, unlike George, more often than not had things work out in his favor.
8. Larry Miller
Larry Miller is an actor and comedian who is also close friends with Jerry Seinfeld, and thus it would, on paper, make sense for Miller to play Jerry’s friend on the show. Perhaps it has to do with roles that he has played in the past, including as an angry doorman on Seinfeld, but Miller’s comedy has been more sarcastic and even vindictive than self-depreciating as the George character became later on in the show. This is not to say that Miller could not have put his own spin on George. It is more a case of Alexander merely being a better fit knowing all that we know now.
7. Brad Hall
Brad Hall is married to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the actress who played Elaine Benes on Seinfeld. The former Saturday Night Live comedian was given a chance to try out for George, but things did not work out on the show. Hall would have appearances on other programs, and he has served as a director-producer. The man who could have been George has also written for a variety of shows, including Brooklyn Bridge, Frasier, Watching Ellie and American Dreamer. Hall was nominated for one Primetime Emmy for his work on Brooklyn Bridge. He and Louis-Dreyfus have two sons together.
6. David Alan Grier
Television fans everywhere are lucky that David Alan Grier did not, for one reason or another, end up becoming George on Seinfeld. This is not at all a hit on Grier or his abilities to make transitions into different roles. While Alexander went on to make the Seinfeld character all his own, Alan Grier became a true star on the In Living Color program. Alan Grier also earned roles in numerous cult movie classics such as Blankman! and In the Army Now, and he has gone on to become a superstar on his own without the help of the all-time great sitcom.
5. Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane not earning the role of George is one of several cases in this piece of things working out well for all involved. While Alexander and the Seinfeld series will always be intertwined, Lane has had an incredible career worthy of every award that he has won over the past several decades. It is ironic and maybe even fitting that the careers of Alexander and Lane have crossed paths on several occasions as explained by Alexander back in 1997: “As has been true my whole life, and I’m sure the converse is true for Nathan, we’re on the short list of people to replace each other when one of us isn’t available. Before Seinfeld, I would see Nathan at auditions all the time. There was nothing I was up for that he wasn’t up for.”
4. Steve Buscemi
There are certain cases when you cannot envision an actor playing a role no matter how hard you close your eyes while making the attempt. Steve Buscemi is extremely talented – go watch Boardwalk Empire if you have any questions about that – but the overweight and awkward buddy of Jerry on Seinfeld Buscemi is not. You could say that Buscemi has done all right for himself despite not starting on Seinfeld. He went on to win roles in movies such as Reservoir Dogs, Con Air and Armageddon, and he also played a part in a little show known as The Sopranos. Not bad work if you can get it.
3. Paul Shaffer
Alexander did not drop a bombshell with this piece of information, as it is something that Paul Shaffer has spoken about in the past. Shaffer discussed the matter while making an appearance on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight: “That is absolutely true. I don’t think Jason Alexander likes to hear me tell that story. This is early days of the (Late Night with David Letterman) show, and I had nobody to answer calls. A message came through…at least the receptionist took a message: ‘Jerry Seinfeld called. He’s getting his own show. He wants you to be his sidekick. You don’t even have to audition.’ And I was kind of overwhelmed, and I said, ‘Jerry Seinfeld. What kind of show could he possibly get?!’”
2. Chris Rock
Chris Rock was a comedian and an actor who was not known to the majority of American television viewers during the early days of Seinfeld, and thus nobody could have imagined what was to be for him decades after the start of the program. Rock, who easily could have overshadowed the rest of the cast because of his talent and his humor, evolved into arguably the top comic in the United States if not in all of the world during his generation. He has since had roles in numerous movies, and Rock also produced his own television show entitled Everybody Hates Chris.
1. Danny DeVito
Assuming that Alexander is spot-on regarding the matter, both Chris Rock and Danny DeVito were offered the role of George. DeVito made his name in the 1970s playing the obnoxious yet oddly caring dispatcher in television show Taxi, and from there he launched a successful movie career. Had he accepted the role on the show, he would have easily been the most famous part of the Seinfeld main roster. Alexander discussed DeVito passing on the gig while appearing on the Howard Stern Show: “I think in the case of Danny he probably didn’t want to be—his career, when we started Seinfeld, would’ve been at its apex, so he probably didn’t want to do a sidekick role.”