Here’s Why Chris Rock and Danny DeVito Passed on Playing George on ‘Seinfeld,’ According to Jason Alexander

Alexander explained how he wrestled the part of George away from the likes of Larry Miller, Brad Hall, David Alan Grier, Nathan Lane, Steve Buscemi, Paul Shaffer, Danny DeVito and Chris Rock
Here’s Why Chris Rock and Danny DeVito Passed on Playing George on ‘Seinfeld,’ According to Jason Alexander

The list of A-listers who almost played George Costanza on Seinfeld is taller than George Costanza.

25 years after Seinfeld said goodbye in a controversial series finale, it’s hard to imagine any actor other than Jason Alexander playing the short, stocky bald stand-in for series co-creator Larry David. Alexander mastered the mannerisms and affectation of the occasionally employed garbage-eater George Costanza so deftly that, even decades after Seinfeld stopped airing new episodes, it can be hard to separate Alexander from his most popular role. However, despite the perfection of Seinfeld and David’s eventual casting choice, the part of George wasn’t actually written for Alexander as it may appear to be when watching him chew the scenery and wrench a golf ball from a whale’s blowhole – is that a Titleist?

In 2015, Alexander appeared on The Howard Stern Show where he discussed every big-name actor who went out for the part of George Costanza before it fell to him, a legendary lineup that included Larry MillerBrad HallDavid Alan GrierNathan LaneSteve BuscemiPaul ShafferDanny DeVito and Chris Rock. According to Alexander, Seinfeld would have looked a lot different if DeVito had been willing to play second fiddle to Jerry.

Back when David and Seinfeld first sold their pilot about a bunch of New Yorkers ragging on the most mundane parts of every day life, Alexander was, mainly, a stage actor and a rising Broadway star with a respectable but not world-shaking number of TV credits under his belt. And, when Alexander flew out to do a screentest in Seinfeld, he read the character of George as a Woody Allen-esque figure, not yet knowing what every Seinfeld fan now understands in that David based all the best George storylines on his own experiences.

“I knew nothing about it. They had apparently seen a lot of people in LA," Alexander said of the Seinfeld audition experience. Alexander himself was in awe of the list of A-listers whom Seinfeld and David tried out before tapping some Broadway guy whose biggest claim to fame on TV was a fifteen episode stint on E/R. However, Alexander doesn't believe that the big names passed on Seinfeld because they didn't believe that the show could be a success – said Alexander, “I think, in the case of Danny (DeVito), he probably didn't wanna be – his career, when we started Seinfeld, would have been at its apex, so he probably didn't wanna do a sidekick role." On the topic of Rock, Alexander was less certain about why the comic didn't get cast, theorizing, “Maybe it didn't get to an offer stage.”

Rock also seems uncertain as to why he never made it onto Seinfeld, telling Stephen Colbert in 2021, “There was a lot of NBC talk. There was talk about Seinfeld. There was talk about me being one of the Friends." Rock joked, “I would have been the Black friend. That's basically who I am to America anyway, at this point.”

“Let’s just say, the good people at Seinfeld, they made the right choice,” Rock said of Alexander's eventual casting. DeVito, on the other hand, has not explained exactly why he didn't end up playing George Costanza – but, in some other universe, Alexander is the one making Rob McElhenney play the troll toll.

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