'Seinfeld': Jason Alexander Almost Quit Over This Iconic George Costanza-Less Episode
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Reader, imagine if you will, a Seinfeld sans everyone's favorite bad boy, marine biologist impersonator, and occasional erotic photoshoot model, George Costanza. A world where no women, children, and elderly people were haphazardly smacked out of the way as a 30-something-year-old man attempts to flee a fire. A universe where the multi-purpose moniker of “Art Vandelay” has never been spoken. Hell, a reality where no one knows of the dangers of post-pool shrinkage. While these theoreticals may sound like the stuff of nightmares, this horror almost came to fruition after one fateful episode, when Jason Alexander, the actor behind Costanza, threatened to quit the show.
The drama surrounding the character's on-screen presence first began when Louis-Dreyfus joined Seinfeld's main cast as Elaine Benes following the series' pilot in 1989, an addition Alexander admitted made him feel “a little threatened" during a 2013 interview with the Television Academy Foundation.
“The three-person show had become a four-person show, and I really thought she and I were two sides of the same coin,” the actor said. “I wasn't sure if that was going to be interesting," he continued.
Unfortunately for Alexander, these concerns only intensified after both George and Michael Richards's Cosmo Kramer were written out of season three's “The Pen," in which Jerry brings Elaine to visit his parents in Florida, a trip filled with backaches, spats over space pens, a fundamental misunderstanding of gifting decorum, and most notably, an entirely unhinged, muscle-relaxer-induced rendition of the “STELLA!” monologue from A Streetcar Named Desire.
Although “The Pen” was undeniably funny, often dubbed one of the series's best installments, however, Alexander wasn't amused, marching up to Seinfeld co-creator Larry David upon returning back to work the following week with an ultimatum: Either George would appear in every episode going forward or he'd make like his character after being denied access to the executive bathroom at his real estate job and quit (this time, presumably without coming back the following Monday like nothing ever happened).
“I said ‘if you don’t need me to be here every week, I don't want to be here,'" the actor recalled telling David. ‘"So if you write me out again write me permanently.’
According to Alexander -- in a very spot-on impression of the then-Seinfeld executive producer-turned Curb Your Enthusiasm leading man – David didn't take too kindly to his sentiments, lamenting about the struggles of writing scripts accommodating the series' leading quartet. The actor says he definitely saw David's concerns, however, he remained unswayed, standing by his demands.
"I went, 'Don't tell me your problems. I'm telling you, If you don't need me to be here, if I'm not vital to every episode of this show, I don't wanna be here. I don't wanna do this,' and they never did it to me again," he explained.
And thank God they didn't – this timeline may be cursed, but at least we have Festivus.