How The Cast Of ‘Seinfeld’ Really Thought About Michael Richards

Although he was loved by the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, not everyone felt on-set felt positive about Michael Richards.

Michael Richards was basically hand-selected by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David after the two worked together on the sketch-show Fridays. While Jerry knew and loved Michael on Fridays, it was Larry who really went to bat for him to be cast as Cosmo Kramer, a character based on his real-life neighbor. Many of the best stories and characters on Seinfeld were inspired by Larry David’s real life. So, it makes sense that he was a little unhappy with the direction that Michael took the character.

Obviously, Larry and everyone else on Seinfeld eventually fell in love with what Michael was doing with the character. Kramer, after all, is one of the best sitcom characters of all time. But Michael’s way of working was much different than that of the rest of the cast. They were able to have fun while he was intense and utterly committed. He’s also been described as “a loner”. While the rest of the cast was socializing, he was on his own practicing lines, voices, hiccups, and, of course, his unparalleled physical comedy. So, what did they really think about working with him and him as an individual?

Jerry Seinfeld Is Fiercely Defensive Of Michael Richards

Jerry was a big fan of Michael on Fridays and when he did The Tonight Show. “He was one of those very special, very rare, talents that I had seen in my years in the business,” Jerry said of Michael Richards in a documentary focusing on the creation of Kramer. Not only was Jerry blown away by what Michael did, but he’s been fiercely defensive of him over the years. Even when Michael had his controversial moment at The Laugh Factory, Jerry gave him the benefit of the doubt and gave him a chance to apologize on David Letterman’s Show.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Was Afraid of Michael Richard’s Physical Ability And Temper

Julia wasn’t aware of Michael prior to working with him on Seinfeld. But the two weren’t particularly close when working together purely because they had very different techniques. Julia was much more social and Michael far more reclusive. “Whenever I was around Michael doing a physical bit, it was a little bit scary, to tell you the truth because Michael could do anything,” Julia said in an interview. “As a matter of fact, Michael hit me in the head with golf clubs once and cut my eye in the middle of shooting.

Even still, Julia had a major affection for Michael. “I love him with all my heart,” she said. “Michael Richards kicks a** in the comedy department.” Julia went on to say, “The conviction of the man is unsurpassed. So much so that if you screw up his scene, he could really lose his temper.”

This is a well-documented part of Michael’s career. Even in the Seinfeld bloopers, you can see that he absolutely hated when someone messed up and took him out of the moment. He did not want to have to break character.

Jason Alexander Thought Michael Was “Mad” But Brilliant

In a documentary on the creation of the Kramer character, Jason Alexander (George) claimed that he didn’t know Michael before they worked on Seinfeld half-joked that he still doesn’t. “There’s an insanity in Michael that has nothing to do with Kramer,” Jason said.

“They’re both mad but in completely different ways.” Jason and the rest of the cast were able to unwind and let go of their character between takes, but Michael was always off to the side, separate, and trying to figure out his wild character.

While Jason and Michael may not be close in real life, there’s no doubt that Jason was blown away by what Michael did with the character. In fact, he claimed that Michael’s performance was a rare instance of “an actor showing the writers the way” of creating a character.

Jerry Stiller Felt As Though He And Michael Richards Were “Brothers”

There were few actors on Seinfeld who really jived with Michael in the way the late Jerry Stiller did, which is why many wonder what their relationship was actually like. “I had the feeling that I have like a path to his mind. I really did. I felt like we were like brothers of some sort,” Jerry, who played Frank Costanza, explained. In a behind-the-scenes interview for “The Doorman”. “Michael was very meticulous about the way he worked. I made up a line about him. I said, ‘He had a mercurial mind in a weightless body.'”

Because of the way that both Michael and Jerry worked, the two of them were given freedom by the creators. They could pretty much work out a scene on their own without much direction. This allowed them to not only come up with their own utterly unique take on the scenes but build a close and very personal relationship.

Wayne Knight Thought Michael Richards Wasn’t Thrilled To Have Him There

Much like Jerry Stiller, Wayne Knight, who played Newman, spent most of his scenes with Michael. But this presented a problem initially. “I’d come on as kind of a two with Michael. Kramer and Newman teamed up and Michael didn’t like working with this way,” Wayne Knight explained. “Part of the way he worked was on repetition and on feeling very secure in what he was doing.” Wayne’s presence threw him off a bit. However, the two managed to build a strong working relationship because their characters complimented each other so nicely.

Estelle Harris Thought Michael Was “Unusual” And “A Nut”

“When you work with Michael in a scene, in front of cameras where you can do it over and over again — Michael never does it the same way. So you can never be sure of how he’s going to do it. Which keeps you alert as to how you are going to react,” Estelle Harris (Estelle Costanza) said of Michael’s unyielding, surprising, and totally dedicated Kramer performance. Like the rest of the cast, Estelle’s experience with Michael was also a little different. “Michael Richards, as a person, is an enigma. Kind. Generous. Unusual. He’s a nut.”

Barney Martin Was Blown Away By How Much Michael Richards Rehearsed

The man behind Morty Seinfeld saw just how hard of a worker Michael was. Like everyone else, Barney Martin was blown away by his dedication. “I had seen how much he rehearsed to have that character pay-off and I was amazed. And he was funny. He was funny, boy.”

Danny Woodburn Was Pulled Into Michael Richards’ Private Rehearsal World

Danny Woodburn, who played Mickey, spent many of his scenes on Seinfeld alongside Michael. “I knew from the first day that he was really going to get into it because he would take me, and I would just pretty much relax my muscles, and he would move and I would hold onto him and make sure that he didn’t throw me around the room. But he would move in such a way that it looked like I was throwing him around. But really, he was moving me around,” Danny explained. “A lot of the time you’re on a sitcom set, you do your scene and you go back to your room or you hang out on stage and wait around for your next scene to come up but Michael and I would go off to whatever set we were supposed to be on and rehearse all the physical stuff. So, that definitely helped our relationship. And it helped me from getting injured.

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