3 Times 'Seinfeld' Actors Broke Character (And Jerry's Favorite)
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Throughout his decade-spanning, teenage-dating career, comedian and professional Kesha hug-dodger Jerry Seinfeld has garnered quite a bit of flack from critics and fans alike surrounding his acting skills, yet he was far from the only actor to lose it during Seinfeld's nine-season run.
From Julia Louis-Dreyfus absolutely losing her s--t to Jason Alexander begging to be filmed during his scene, here are three times the Seinfeld cast cracked up on screen.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Losing It Over Jerry Stiller
Reader, if anything is certain about the SCU (Seinfeld Cinematic Universe) -- other than the fact that “The Contest” and “The Opposite” are the greatest installments in the entire series and anyone who disagrees is entitled to their own, albeit objectively incorrect opinion -- it's that 1. the Costanza family are the real stars of the show and 2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the queen of breaking on screen, a fact evident from a treasure trove of relatively recently unearthed bloopers.
The combination of these two factors, however, led to the perfect storm behind what may well be the greatest character break in all of Seinfeld history -- Louis-Dreyfus absolutely losing her mind after hearing just four words from the lips of the late comedy legend, Jerry Stiller while filming season eight's "The Little Kicks." The episode famed for introducing us to Elaine's, erm, signature dance moves and George attempting to be the “bad boy,” both Louis-Dreyfus and Alexander couldn't hide their laughter while taping the scene where – 25-YEAR-OLD SPOILER ALERT -- George gets arrested after – you guessed it -- attempting to be the “bad boy.”
Behind-the-scenes footage of the show offers a glimpse at just how hilarious Stiller was while filming this episode, prompting his co-stars to literally roll on the floor and nearly burst into tears by simply repeating the phrases “what the hell does that mean” and “you want a piece of me?” in his signature, Jerry Stiller manner. Despite this tomfoolery, it seems that they ultimately got the shot – though it's unclear how many times Louis-Dreyfus and Alexander had to scream “serenity now!” in an attempt to keep themselves composed.
Jason Alexander Asking The Cameras To, Like, Actually Film Him
While the vast majority of the show's breaks may have been a testament to the series' absurd comic genius, one of Seinfeld's greatest behind-the-scenes moments comes down to – like most things in Seinfeld -- George Costanza being mind-boggling unlucky. While filming “The Chinese Restaurant," a.k.a. the one episode that boldly asked what no sitcom had asked before -- “what if we turned waiting for a table at a restaurant into a 30-minute television saga” – Jason Alexander's luck seemingly took after that of his iconic character during an interlude in which he goes to make a phone call.
At one point during the episode, George walks away from his pals to make a call, the cameras evidently supposed to follow him to the like, totally ‘90s pay phone. Instead, it seems the camera people found Elaine and Jerry standing around to make much more compelling television than George's monologue, staying transfixed on the two leads, prompting Alexander to react in the most Costanzian manner possible to this technical mix-up.
“Excuse me,” he says, presumably sticking with the script prior to noticing the camera snafu. “Excuse me, there's not a camera on me,” he says, launching the studio audience into uproarious laughter. Fortunately for Alexander – and the rest of us – we do see his conversation in the final episode. He may not know he's Cartwright, but he definitely does know his worth.
Jerry Seinfeld Losing His S--t During “The Library”
Although the iconic Dreyfus moment may have existed in a blooper, it seems some of these slip-ups made their way to the small screen – namely in 1991's “The Library.” Appearing as a part of Seinfeld's third season, the episode centers around Jerry finding himself facing the consequences of a truly unthinkable crime he (allegedly) committed nearly two decades earlier – forgetting to return a copy of The Tropic of Cancer to the library when he was in high school circa 1971. I know, reader. Take a moment to process. It's hard to know our heroes have done such terrible, terrible things.
This gaffe was so egregious the overlords at the New York Public Library took it upon themselves to send in the big guns – investigator Lt. Bookman played by Philip Baker Hall -- to interrogate the literary scofflaw about his unconscionable behavior, a scene Seinfeld says he struggled to film because of its absolute absurdity.
“It was just so ridiculous that he was interrogating me in my own apartment about a book,” Seinfeld recalled in a Q and A for Netflix, where the series reappeared last month after a several-month streaming hiatus. “I just kept cracking up."
Jerry says he struggled to keep it together so much that it took him approximately eight tries to get it right simply “because I messed that up a ton.” The final cut, he says, is an amalgamation of several of those attempts, with his laughter still poking its head into the scene, ala Kramer in every episode … and also like, as a fever-dream turkey.