Larry David has always had a penchant for the metatheatrical. As co-creator of Seinfeld, the comedian and writer bought much of himself to the script of the hit US sitcom, using his own life as a source of inspiration for episodes and even basing an entire character on himself. Here, the actor who played George, Jason Alexander, recalls the moment he discovered he playing a version of Larry David.
Speaking to Kennedy Molloy during an interview on Triple M, Alexander recalled the moment he realised he was performing a version of Larry David: “If you look at the first ten-ish episodes [of Seinfeld], Woody Allen is still my role model,” Alexander said of George.
“Somewhere around episode ten a script came to the table and we read it for everybody, and it just seems preposterous. The situation just seemed crazy. So I went to Larry and I said, ‘Larry, please help me with this because this would never happen to anybody, but if it did, nobody would react like this.’ And he said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, this happened to me and it’s exactly what I did!'”
Alexander quickly realised George Costanza’s true identity. He was – and always had been – Larry David’s surrogate. Following the discovery, Jason began drawing everything he could from David, watching him like a hawk for insights into his character. Soon, Alexander had become an adept mimic of the comedian’s mannerisms, even figuring out how to replicate the exact fence Larry would pull when someone insulted him.
According to Jason, that same face crops up all the time in Curb Your Enthusiasm. “So, it’s whenever he perceives that someone has insulted him or is undercutting him,” Jason revealed. “He puts the tip of his tongue at the bottom of his teeth and he does this thing with his eyebrows. It’s just like he’s weighing it. He’s weighing it. ‘Do I attack? Do I retreat? Do I… What do I do? This is a guy who constantly perceives the world trying to crap on him.”
Paradoxically, Larry David would later reveal that he does a terrible impersonation of George and had to be taught by Alexander. I don’t really don’t know how to do a good impression of George,” Larry David confessed during a behind-the-scenes excerpt of Curb Your Enthusiasm.