‘Seinfeld’ Star Patrick Warburton Reveals the ‘Downside’ to His Role on the Sitcom

by Craig Garrett

Even though Patrick Warburton played a supporting role on Seinfeld, being on such an iconic show left the actor feeling typecast. To many, Seinfeld is the best sitcom of all time. It aired for 9 seasons from 1989 to 1998. The show has never left TV syndication and is still a staple in re-runs. While typecasting might be a consideration for the main players on the show like Jerry Seinfeld himself, Warburton argues that even acting in a supporting role can be problematic. He played fan-favorite David Puddy, the on-again, off-again boyfriend of Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

“When you’re part of something that’s in perpetual syndication … I hazard to say, I won’t ever do anything that’s out there as much as Seinfeld has been and seems to always be,” Warburton recently told The List. “It’s something that seems to be ever-present. It’s a good thing,” he said. He goes on to point out he was only on a handful of episodes of the series. “I actually did nine regular-season episodes — 10 including the final episode. It is tricky when you do nine episodes of a sitcom and are in danger of being typecast.” In other words, Seinfeld was such a powerhouse that even a minor role can mean you’re permanently that character in the eyes of the film industry. “I find that in a creative industry, oftentimes they seem to lack creativity in regards to casting. They put you in a box,” he said.

How Warburton battled back from typecasting

Patrick Warburton’s fear of typecasting due to Seinfeld made the actor take bold choices with his roles. He quickly landed voice acting work in Family Guy and The Emperor’s New Groove. In live-action, he landed a supporting role in Men in Black II. This film was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and the actor and director made a lasting connection. Sonnenfeld also cast Warburton in the Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events. Warburton credits collaborators like Sonnenfeld for understanding he can play more than just David Puddy early on. “Fortunately, I have friends like Barry Sonnenfeld who can see outside [the box] and they realize that you don’t do just one thing,” Warburton explained.

Recently, Warburton returned to his Seinfeld roots of sitcoms. He plays General Dabney Stramm on the Netflix series, Space Force. In the series, Warburton gets to play against comedy stars like Jane Lynch and Steve Carrel. The actor lept at the opportunity. “And to get to work with Steve Carrell,” he recently told Inverse. “I’ve never worked with Steve, and we’ve always been huge fans of his, our family here, we binged The Office a few times.” Patrick Warburton’s next project is providing voice work for the animated feature MEAD.