'Seinfeld' The OG Newman Casting Might Have Curbed Your Enthusiasm For The Character
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Ahh, Seinfeld's Newman – a “pure evil” mailman and voting PSA spokesman, famed for both existing as Jerry's arch-nemesis, getting spat on by former MLB first baseman, Keith Hernandez, and being a notable (non-Herbert Morrison) exclaimer of “oh, the humanity!” as his mail truck lit ablaze on the highway. But what if I told you that before we got to know – as much as you can get to know a conniving postal worker best scathingly described as “an enigma, a mystery wrapped in a riddle," to quote Elaine Benes paraphrasing Winston Churchill -- and lov--nevermind Newman as portrayed by Wayne Knight, yet another star originated the role – none other than Lorde's Solar Power muse and Alan Dershowitz's Martha's Vinyard nemesis, Larry David.
While Knight's Newman made his small-screen debut in season three's “The Suicide,” the character made a lesser-known cameo on the previous season, appearing via voiceover in season two's “The Revenge," in which he threatens to jump off of the roof of the apartment building he lives in alongside Kramer and Jerry.
“You wanna shoot some pool tonight?” Kramer asks, looking up at his neighbor standing on the roof.
“I can't. I'm goin' to the movies,” Newman replies.
However, this off-handed interaction ultimately led to the character becoming a Seinfeld staple – likely to the extreme disdain of the fictional Jerry. “We did a show where, I guess we needed a friend for Kramer or somebody in the building, and we had already heard this name Newman before, so let's use this guy, let's use this same guy we already introduced him," David recalled of how the widely-detested character came to be in an "Inside Look" segment for the episode, adding that they knew “in about five seconds” that Knight was the perfect fit for the part.
As such, David -- who was apparently too busy preparing for his iconic roles as a concerned beachgoer in “The Marine Biologist” and as Frank Costanza's cape-sporting attorney to bring Newman to life – had Knight re-dub the lines of his iconic character, which appeared in some iterations of the show's cable syndication. However, Netflix, which recently re-released the series on their platform in October, has apparently decided to kick it really old school, scrapping Knight's voiceover for the original David version.
But sneaking in a new Newman wasn't the only casting swap throughout the course of the series, namely, switching out the OG Frank Costanza for Jerry Stiller. During his first appearance in season four's "The Handicap Spot," George Costanza's father was portrayed by John Randolph, an actor famed for his appearances in King Kong, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and most notably, in this case, not being Jerry Stiller. Although Stiller, like Knight, later re-recorded the scenes from the episode in question, Netflix has decided to keep the version with Stiller, as ScreenRant noted, adding that it is unclear why the streaming giant opted not to swap it out for the original, like they did with Knight's cameo.
So, folks, next time you greet Newman hello with a scowl, make sure you specify which Newman, exactly, you're referencing.
Top Image: NBC