George Costanza, in many ways, is the most nuanced of the main characters of the iconic sitcom Seinfeld. He may be a truly ignoble individual at his core, but deep down, isn’t everyone? Out of the four central characters on Seinfeld, George Costanza had probably the most extensive arc.
A lot went on behind the scenes of Seinfeld in order to make the character who he is, with actor Jason Alexander’s performance style-shifting as he became more comfortable with the character. With that being said, the cast and crew have some rather interesting stories that involve the character’s various neuroses.
He Was Supposed To Be A Comedian
Jerry Seinfeld’s standup segments were a staple of the show, as it was often there where he would deliver corny jokes, utter some quite shady burns, and even set up the episode ahead. However, in the early stages of development, he wasn’t going to be the only comedian on the show.
In Jason Plus Larry Is George, the DVD documentary that details the evolution of George, Jerry Seinfeld, and Larry David discuss how George was supposed to be a comedian. However, this would conflict with Jerry’s opening standup, so it was scrapped in favor of giving George a job in real-estate, though that wouldn’t last long either.
Jason Alexander Doubted His Casting
If it wasn’t for Jason Alexander, fans likely wouldn’t have rooted for George, but it seems that that performance wasn’t always a guarantee. At the time, Alexander had won a Tony Award and had a stint on the failed sitcom Everything’s Relative.
Jason Plus Larry Is George sees Jason Alexander recall how Jerry Seinfeld’s best friend Larry Miller was in the running to play George, causing him to doubt if he’d be cast. However, the moment everyone saw Alexander’s performance, they knew he was the right choice.
George, In Many Ways, Is Larry David
As stated in the Jason Plus Larry Is George, as well as many other behind-the-scenes stories and interviews, George was heavily based on Seinfeld co-creator Larry David. In many ways, a lot of what happens to George is based on things that occurred in David’s life, with the character reacting in a similar way to how David reacted.
Speaking with Archive of American Television, Alexander recalled an incident where he felt George was placed in a scenario purely for the writers rather than the viewers. He confronted David about this, to which David revealed it was based on an event from David’s life, something that completely shifted Alexander’s view on George.
A Somewhat Mean-Spirited Comparison
At first, Jason Alexander based his performance off of Woody Allen, but soon Alexander began to draw inspiration from David, now knowing the character was essentially a stand-in for David. Though long after Season 1, George became his own character, with a lot of Alexander being applied to George.
In the Inside Look for “The Fix-Up,” Alexander joked about how he noticed that the writers had picked up on the fact that he could take one on the chin. No surprise, as the episode makes several jokes about George’s physical appearance.
“The Marine Biologist” Put Alexander To The Test
“The Marine Biologist” is a George-centric episode, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that it has one of the best George moments. Though George’s story about saving a whale when Kramer accidentally lodged a golf ball into its blowhole is hilarious, it was a challenge for Alexander that proved his talent.
In the episode’s Inside Look, it was revealed that the speech was written at the last minute, with Alexander not being able to rehearse before performing in front of a live audience. Luckily, Alexander is a quick study, with his delivery and the final punchline leading to one of the loudest laughs in Seinfeld history.
A Nᥱαr-Fαtαl Rituαl
The Making Of A Seinfeld Episode, a documentary detailing the production of a Seinfeld episode, is a fascinating look at some of the strange rituals of the cast and crew. One of them saw the cast and crew going to the appropriately named Jerry’s Famous Deli and ordering some rather impactful food.
Most of the time, Alexander would order a Reuben, with that decision often coming back to bite him afterward. As recalled by Alexander, he was once playfully racing with Jerry Seinfeld after leaving the deli and he could feel his heart giving out, thinking in the moment “this stupid ritual’s gonna actually ƙ𝔦ℓℓ me!”
“Always Do The Opposite”
“The Opposite” may seem like an incidental episode, but it had a major impact on the lore of the series. In the episode, George is encouraged to do the opposite of his normal routine, which lands him both a new girlfriend and a dream job with The Yankees.
As stated in the episode’s Inside Look, the term “always do the opposite” was used in the show’s pilot, ironically said by George. The installment sees George finally paying that moment forward, but while the best things happen to George, the worst things happen to Elaine.
Alexander Didn’t Really…Get Heidi Swedberg
Though he repeatedly speaks highly of her talent, Jason Alexander felt that he and Heidi Swedberg, who played George’s fiancee Susan, weren’t comedically compatible. Still speaking with Archive of American Television, Alexander recalled how he and Swedberg’s lack of gelling didn’t really faze Larry David.
The decision to have George propose to Susan completely caught Alexander off guard. Nonetheless, this lack of comedic incompatibility may explain why in Season 7, George accidentally killed Susan in what is, without doubt, the worst thing he has ever done.
“The Pen” is an underrated episode of Seinfeld, but one that really rubbed Alexander the wrong way. In the episode’s Inside Look, Alexander recalled his frustration with not being in the plot, which was so great that he met with David about the issue.
As he put it “If you do again, do it permanently.” Essentially, he was saying that if George was removed from another episode, that it had better be for good. Naturally, George was never missing from another episode, but his thoughts on “The Pen” didn’t end there.
“The Pen” Is Alexander’s Parents’ Favorite Episode…Even Though He Wasn’t In It
For the most part, George was a pretty relatable guy, but Jason Alexander’s parents felt that they related more to an episode that didn’t even feature their son. “The Pen” deals with Jerry’s parents, who live in a community in Florida, with the episode showcasing a lot of the snobberies of those types of communities.
As said by Alexander in the same Inside Look, there was no reason for his parents to like Seinfeld, but they fell in love with “The Pen.” This is probably due to them connecting with the premise, as they lived in one of those Floridian communities.