The Seinfeld show made such an impact on our culture that it is still quoted daily. You can hardly have a conversation with someone without hearing phrases like “not that there’s anything wrong with that” or “yada, yada, yada.”
Jerry Seinfeld is seeing success with his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a hit with Veep.
While most Seinfeld episodes were standalone shots at certain non-topics, there were occasionally running gags and even ongoing story arcs. One of these involved Jason Alexander’s character George getting engaged and nearly married to Susan. Alas, poor Susan never made it to the altar. She was killed off in the show due to poison glue on her wedding invitation envelopes.
Now Jason Alexander has accidentally let slip to Howard Stern why that character was killed off. He was trying to soften a statement made by another Julia Louis-Dreyfus about actress Heidi Swedberg who played Susan, but he just made it worse.
Howard Stern baited Alexander, saying, “Julia Louis-Dreyfus told me you all wanted to kill [Swedberg’s character Susan].”
“I couldn’t figure out how to play off of her,” Alexander said of Swedberg, “Her instincts for doing a scene, where the comedy was, and mine were always misfiring. And she would do something, and I would go, ‘OK, I see what she’s going to do — I’m going to adjust to her.’ And I’d adjust, and then it would change.”
Alexander was chagrined when show creator told him that the character of Susan would be sticking around on Seinfeld because she and George were getting married. Fans wondered why in the world this would happen. They hated Susan. But that made perfect sense to Larry David’s warped sense of humor.
“What he said was, what Heidi brought to the character is, we could do the most horrible things to her, and the audience was still on my side,” Alexander said.
But the difficulty in working with Swedberg was more than Alexander could take. Once her character was expanded, other actors saw it too.
“They go, ‘You know what? It’s f—ing impossible. It’s impossible,'” said Alexander. “And Julia actually said, ‘Don’t you want to just kill her?’ And Larry went, ‘Ka-bang!'”
The idea of killing Susan on the show took Larry David’s sadistic use of her to new heights. He was in.
But once Alexander’s conversation with Stern made headlines, the actor felt bad. He thought it sounded like he did not like Swedberg and that the whole cast had conspired against her. He took to Twitter to explain himself.
“OK, folks, I feel officially awful,” Alexander wrote. “The impetus for telling this story was that Howard said, ‘Julia Louis-Dreyfus told me you all wanted to kill her.’ So I told the story to try and clarify that no one wanted to kill Heidi.”
“People clearly liked the [George-Susan] interplay, even though I believed I was ‘off.'”
“[Swedberg] was generous and gracious, and I am so mad at myself for retelling this story in any way that would diminish her,” Alexander continued. “If I had had more maturity or more security in my own work, I surely would have taken her query and possibly tried to adjust the scenes with her. She surely offered. But, I didn’t have that maturity or security.”
Alexander hopes people watch the Seinfeld re-runs and now understand what happened.