Best Post-‘Seinfeld’ Roles for Each Cast Member

The best things they’ve done since doing the best thing ever
Best Post-‘Seinfeld’ Roles for Each Cast Member

The term “Seinfeld Curse,” coined to describe the series of unsuccessful projects for the main cast, exists for good reason. Seemingly haunted after the show ended, Michael Richards (The Michael Richards Show), Jason Alexander (Bob Patterson) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ (Watching Ellie) attempts to star in their own shows were all canceled within the first season or two. The primary culprit being audiences and network executives’ difficulty in seeing them as anything other than their iconic Seinfeld characters.

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Alexander even poked fun at this on Curb Your Enthusiasm, telling Larry David how hard it is to find work after Seinfeld. “I’m an actor; I have a range of characters I can play,” he maintained. “Why am I relegated to this?!”

That said, when Louis-Dreyfus won an Emmy for her role in The New Adventures of Old Christine, she said defiantly, “I’m not somebody who really believes in curses… But curse this, baby!” 

And thus, the curse was apparently broken.

While the rest of the cast hasn’t been as successful as Louis-Dreyfus, here are my favorite post-Seinfeld roles for the main gang of four (and Newman)...

Jerry Seinfeld

Role: Barry B. Benson, Bee Movie (2007)

Synopsis: Seinfeld stars as the voice of a bee who wonders if there’s more to life than living in a hive and working with honey. After venturing out of the hive, he befriends a florist named Vanessa and learns that humans have been stealing bees’ honey for their own consumption. Outraged, Barry decides to sue the human race for their theft. 

Why It’s My Favorite: Once Seinfeld ended, Seinfeld returned to his first love: stand-up. And that’s pretty much what he’s been doing ever since. But while having dinner one night with Steven Spielberg, he jokingly said there should be a movie about bees called Bee Movie. To Seinfeld’s surprise, Spielberg liked the idea and invited him to DreamWorks Studios to make it happen. The result is my favorite post-Seinfeld role, which is really the only choice I have, considering Seinfeld hasn’t starred in anything else. (His performance is good, and the cavalcade of celebrity cameos is fun, too — including those from Chris Rock, John Goodman, Larry King, Sting, Ray Liotta and Seinfeld’s Richards and Patrick Warburton.) 

And while the film received mixed reviews, it was a box-office success and developed a cult following as a popular meme. Perhaps Seinfeld’s upcoming Netflix film Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story will be my new favorite post-Seinfeld Seinfeld role. But for now, Barry B. Benson takes the prize.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Role: Selina Meyer, Veep (2012-2019)

Synopsis: Veep follows the political career of Selina Meyer as she and her team navigate through the chaotic political landscape during her time as Vice President and President of the United States. 

Why It’s My Favorite: Louis-Dreyfus has easily had the most post-Seinfeld success, starring in well-regarded movies like Enough Said and the aforementioned New Adventures of Old Christine. She’s even in the MCU. But nothing compares to her performance as Selina Meyer in Veep

It’s hard to imagine that Louis-Dreyfus could play an even more selfish, self-centered character than Elaine Benes while still remaining lovable and hilarious, but she pulls it off perfectly in Veep. Selina is ruthless and vulgar, especially toward her family and colleagues — my favorite dynamic being the one with her assistant Gary Walsh (Tony Hale). Louis-Dreyfus will always be “Elaine” in my heart, but there’s no denying that Selina Meyer is also one of the funniest characters in television history.

Jason Alexander

Role: Mauricio, Shallow Hal (2001)

Synopsis: Hal, a superficial man, is hypnotized by self-help guru Tony Robbins, who makes Hal see the inner beauty in women as physical attractiveness. As such, Hal starts to date an overweight, but kind woman named Rosemary. 

Why It’s My Favorite: As he proved in Pretty Woman in Seinfeld’s early days, Alexander is good at playing scummy guys, and Mauricio, who is baffled at Hal’s sudden change in the type of women he dates, certainly qualifies as scummy. Admittedly, a lot of these jokes don’t necessarily work today — or the concept itself, frankly — but at least Alexander was never pretending otherwise.  

Michael Richards

Role: Himself, Curb Your Enthusiasm (2009)

Synopsis: Richards reprises his role as Cosmo Kramer in Season Seven of Curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry David orchestrates a plan to create a Seinfeld reunion episode to win back his ex-wife. Richards, however, develops a (fictitious) disease called Groats, and is so overwhelmed with fear that he can’t act comedically. To put Richards’ mind at ease, Larry sets up a meeting with Leon (JB Smoove), pretending to be Groats survivor Danny Duberstein. (The real Danny Duberstein died from the disease.) 

Why It’s My Favorite: Richards doesn’t miss a beat when reprising Kramer. Nor does the episode avoid referencing his racist tirade at the Laugh Factory in 2006 — though it does so in a more meta than truly apologetic way (so your mileage may vary). When Richards uncovers Leon’s Danny Duberstein ruse, he shouts, in a fit of rage, “If only there were a horrible name that I could call you that would make you as angry as I am!”

Wayne Knight

Role: Al, Toy Story 2 (1999)

Synopsis: Al, a toy collector, kidnaps Woody to sell him and the rest of the Roundup Gang to a museum in Japan. And so, Buzz Lightyear and the other toys must rescue Woody before it’s too late. 

Why It’s My Favorite: When Al is running around in frantic desperation to ensure his toy set makes it to the museum, it provides a nice callback to Newman’s classic Seinfeld moments, like when he is ranting about the mail: “The mail never stops! It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There’s never a letup; it’s relentless. Every day it piles up more and more and more, and you gotta get it out. But the more you get it out, the more it keeps coming in!” 

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