Estelle Harris is one of the most recognizable faces in the sprawling cast on Seinfeld. That’s saying something as co-creators and friends Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld made an effort to cast some of the most interesting, unique, and engaging faces on their acclaimed sitcom. But because of Estelle’s physical presence, her hilarious voice, and the way she brought Estelle Costanza to life, fans will never forget her face. And yet, she is one of the most reclusive actors from the show.
Despite being an icon on the stage and in commercials prior to Seinfeld, as well as her success in numerous shows and the Toy Story franchise after Seinfeld, Estelle seemingly vanished from Hollywood. This is because the actor is highly reclusive. Even during Seinfeld’s run, she rarely did interviews. So, it’s almost impossible to know what she really thought of the men and women she worked with. However, Estelle has mentioned a few of the biggest names from Seinfeld before. Here’s what she really thought of them.
Estelle Harris’ Relationship With Jason Alexander And Jerry Stiller… AKA The Costanzas
Basically every line written for the Costanza family is quotable. And, indeed these lines are quotes almost on a daily basis decades after the show’s completion. In a rare interview, Estelle even said that she was grateful for the annoying fan reactions she receives to this day. While some actors may feel bitter or disrespected by fans yelling out Seinfeld’s catchphrases, Estelle doesn’t. “They yell [them] at me and I laugh and wave as I’m glad that they still remember and love the character. I don’t take it personally. Because I played a character that was written for me and the writing was wonderful.”
Estelle’s positive attitude seems to be a constant. When she was filming Seinfeld, she had nothing but positive things to say about the people she was working with. Years later, she was interviewed and stated that they all got along “beautifully”.
Estelle hasn’t spoken a lot about the man who played her son on Seinfeld, but Jason Alexander has sung her praises time and time again. So, it seems likely that she had a lot of love in her heart for him too. According to Jason, Estelle was “heaven” to work with. He also stated that casting Estelle allowed him and the audience to really understand who George was as a character. So he is eternally grateful to her for that reason.
Given that Jason was one of the actors that Estelle spent the most time with on set, it’s good that they got along. The same is true for both actors who played her husband, Frank Costanza.
At first, Estelle couldn’t imagine who they were going to cast as her husband. But she was pleasantly surprised when Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld chose John Randolph to play the first Frank Costanza. “[He’s] a darling, sweet, wonderful man and a marvelous actor,” Estelle said in a making-of documentary. John Randolph was the perfect person to play the first incarnation of George’s father. But eventually, Larry reevaluated the character and John was no longer appropriate. This is why Frank was re-cast and Jerry Stiller was hired after almost not getting the role that made him famous to a new generation of fans.
Jerry and Estelle two may have been at each other’s throats on camera, but off-camera they were quite close. They sort of had to be given how much they worked together. Not only did they play husband and wife on Seinfeld but also in an AT&T commercial that aired around the time Seinfeld was at the height of its success.
When Jerry passed away in 2020, Estelle was one of the numerous celebrities who came out to publicly praise Jerry and remember his contributions to Seinfeld and the entertainment industry in general. “Jerry was always kind and gracious and funny. Boy was he funny. Such a loss. It was my honor to know him and to work with him. Sending my love and condolences to [his family] Amy and Ben.”
Estelle Harris’ Honest Feelings About Michael Richards
Michael Richards was notoriously specific and even a tad difficult on the set of Seinfeld. While the rest of the cast was down to have a little fun, Michael was utterly invested in his character. This could be challenging for some but exhilarating for others.
“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 said during a DVD extra documentary on Michael Richard’s performance as Cosmo Kramer. While Estelle had some really kind things to say about Michael’s gift as an actor, she also mentioned that the man could be quite, quite strange… but this just added to his appeal. “Michael Richards, as a person, is an enigma. Kind. Generous. Unusual. He’s a nut.”