During Jason Alexander’s time as Jerry Seinfeld’s best friend, George Costanza, on “Seinfeld,” he kept us laughing. His various insecurities and hilarious quips while on the TV show, which aired from 1989 to 1999, made the show inherently funny and unique.
However, the sitcom could’ve looked much different if Alexander had ever quit “Seinfeld.” But, as it turns out, that’s what nearly happened. Although the show catapulted the careers of Alexander as well as Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, there was once a time when Alexander nearly threw all that away, per Looper.
While the show was rapidly generating a loyal fan base in the ’90s, Alexander already had a solid career in the industry. So when there was a particular incident on set, Alexander threatened to look for other options.
Long before “Seinfeld” became what it is today, producers had no idea it would become a cultural phenomenon. When the pilot aired on NBC in 1989, there were three other characters on the show: Kramer, also known as Kessler (Michael Richards), George (Alexander), and Claire (Lee Garlington). At the time, the show was much different from what it would become. For example, Kessler was more polite than the later Kramer, and George had confidence. In addition, Claire, the character who Elaine would replace, was a waitress who didn’t play as a central cast member.
By the second episode of Season 1, the production put changes in place to make the show what it is today. Elaine (Louis-Dreyfus) joined the show as Jerry’s friend and former girlfriend. So what happened to George?
Jason Alexander’s response when Larry David wrote him out of ‘Seinfeld’ episode
As it turns out, Alexander got heated during an episode in Season 3 when writers left George and Kramer out of the episode. When he returned to the set the following week, he aired his grievances with producer and co-creator Larry David.
“If you do that again, do it permanently,” he said, per Access Online. “If you don’t need me to be here every week, I’d just as soon go back home and do what I was doing.”
While Alexander’s threat didn’t match the drama of George’s quitting speech in Season 2, he still drove the point home. As a result, he calmed down and told David he understood.
According to Alexander, David talked about the challenges of writing a show with four main characters. As a result, David figured it out and wrote in George as a lead character.
“When ‘Seinfeld’ started, I had a very successful career in theater in New York, which is what I thought I was going to be doing all my life,” Alexander explained.
Despite the spat, the show and its characters captured the attention of everyone. Although it’s known as a show about nothing, “Seinfeld” continued to climb up the TV ratings. As for Alexander, he looks at the incident with a healthy dose of relief.
“Thank God (David) didn’t say take a hike,” he said, “because I would have had no life and no career.”