Elaine Benes, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is one of the most beloved characters on the 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld.” But there’s a reason she didn’t appear until later on in Season 1.
When she made her grand debut, Elaine was introduced as Jerry’s ex-girlfriend who he’d remained friends with. She soon solidified herself as a core member of the group, alongside Jerry, Cosmo Kramer, and George Costanza.
But Elaine is noticeably absent in the”Seinfeld” pilot episode. That’s because when the show first aired, the creators hadn’t even thought up her character yet.
Instead, the showrunners wanted to build up a waitress named Claire, played by Lee Garlington, as the main woman of the group. Screenrant reports that Claire worked at a coffee shop where Jerry and George spent a lot of time. But she never makes an appearance past the first episode. So, why did the showrunners write her out and Elaine in?
Per Screenrant, one reason could be that NBC executives wanted someone who would hang out with the whole group outside the coffee shop. Another reason points to creator Larry David arguing with Garlington over rewriting her scenes.
But a big reason could be that the writing team just couldn’t be inspired to write more about Claire. They managed to nail her down for the pilot episode, but after that, they weren’t quite sure where to take her character.
Enter Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who hits it off with the cast straight away and develops immediate chemistry with them. Now, they have an ex who’s also a friend but could be a love interest, and who gets along swimmingly as “one of the boys.”
For the next nine seasons, Louis-Dreyfus absolutely smashes her role as Elaine. She becomes one of the most iconic female characters in television. And for her efforts, the actress snags an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series every year from 1992-1998. She finally wins the award in 1996.
Jerry Seinfeld Recalls Moment He Knew the Show was Over
Earlier this week, showrunner Jerry Seinfeld remembered the moment he knew the show would come to an end.
Fox News reports that he spoke about the moment in a press conference on Wednesday, Sept, 29. “I remember when I was in the ninth season and I was thinking maybe it’s time to wrap this up, and I remember inviting Michael [Richards] and Julia [Louis-Dreyfous] and Jason [Alexander] to my dressing room and we all just sat there and we stared at each other,” Seinfeld said.
“I went, ‘I was thinking maybe this is our moment to make a good exit.’ We’ve had a lot of good fortune here. Maybe we shouldn’t push our luck too far. And we all agreed that this was the right moment,” he continued. “And I remember it’s the only time we all got together in a dressing room, the four of us, to make that decision. That was powerful, I remember that… I remember because as soon as we all agreed, that was it. You know, if the four of us agreed, I knew it wasn’t going to go further.”