‘Seinfeld’: Why Paul Shaffer Turned Down Leading Role That He Was Offered by Jerry Seinfeld

by Megan Molseed

Seinfeld fans would be hard-pressed to argue that Jason Alexander didn’t hit the nail on the head while portraying the endlessly neurotic and morally flexible George Costanza on the hit NBC TV sitcom. After all, the actor and comedian received seven Emmy Award nominations for the career-making role.

But, what if Alexander never had a chance to step into George Costanza’s shoes in the first place. Well, this almost happened as the Seinfeld showrunner – and star – Jerry Seinfeld, originally offered the role to another actor. This actor? former David Letterman sidekick, Paul Shaffer.

Paul Shaffer Never Returned The Call, Giving The Hit Seinfeld Role to Alexander Instead

During an interview with Yahoo in 2019, the former musical sidekick to David Letterman explains that early in the development of the award-winning sitcom, Seinfeld reached out to him with an offer.

“This was early in the development of the Seinfeld show,” Paul Shaffer explains.

“I don’t if they had a George or an Elaine or what,” the star continues. “But I got a message at work that said ‘Jerry wants you to be his sidekick on a show he’s getting.'”

Shaffer remembers how, at this stage, the entire show was still in development. And the performer remembers how he took a look at the offer, relating to himself, “Jerry Seinfeld, what kind of a show could he possibly have?”

Of course, now Shaffer can laugh about it all, noting that he knows now what he passed up. “Of course, it amounted to the most beloved show in the history of broadcasting,” Shaffer says with a chuckle.

Jerry Seinfeld Remembers the Moment He Knew His Sitcom’s Iconic Run Was Coming to an End

Despite being blown off by Paul Shaffer when developing the series, comedian Jerry Seinfeld forged on, creating an award-winning team for the popular sitcom series. In total, Seinfeld enjoyed nine seasons on the air, with 180 episodes about “nothing.” However, despite its massive success, Seinfeld clearly remembers the moment he realized the show was coming to its end.

During a discussion with Fox News, Jerry Seinfeld recalls inviting his castmates into his dressing room, and they all seemed to share the same thought.

“I remember when I was in the ninth season and I was thinking maybe it’s time to wrap this up,” Seinfeld recalls.

“And I remember inviting Michael [Richards] and Julia [Louis-Dreyfous] and Jason [Alexander] to my dressing room,” the comedian continues. “And we all just sat there and we stared at each other.” And, the star notes, the conversations that followed reveal his costars were having similar thoughts.

“I went, ‘I was thinking maybe this is our moment to make a good exit,'” the comedian recalls.

“We’ve had a lot of good fortune here. Maybe we shouldn’t push our luck too far,” Seinfeld adds. “And we all agreed that this was the right moment.”