There’s little doubt that Seinfeld‘s general tone is nothing short of pure comedy. Whether Jerry Seinfeld and friends discuss annoying quirks or the general state of the 1990s world, the sitcom provided a much-needed laugh at the end of a long week for nine entertaining seasons. One storyline, however, began with a much darker tone and a totally different actor.
The concept of Newman began with a voiceover
As if being co-creator of a hit TV show wasn’t enough, Curb Your Enthusiasm star, Larry David appeared in Seinfeld numerous times. Through the years, he appeared as different characters you may never even notice. His voice has even been used in places some fans may not have noticed.
David has played a screaming B-list actor, sports commentator, airplane passenger, and more. But there’s one instance where David’s voice once was, but disappeared alotgteher.
In the original introduction of Newman (eventually played by Wayne Knight), David’s voice is heard. Though, he is not seen. Through syndication, David’s voice has been over-dubbed by Knight for continuity.
“Definitely prefer Wayne Knight. Larry David is hilarious but his voice sounds too confident, Knights voice has that cool combination of pitiful + conniving,” one Redditor said.
“Wow I never noticed this! I can really hear David’s voice. Knight does a better job at the character though so I’m glad they went with using the visual and not just audio,” another added.
Here’s how Seinfeld and David originally wrote Newman
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Once Seinfeld and David decided to give Newman a visual role, the first feature was set for season 2 episode7, “The Revenge.” In it, Knight had not yet been cast and David’s voice was used.
The character was written as “a suicidal man who lives in Jerry’s building,” and “the son of Jerry’s landlord.” The actor cast for the role was William Thomas Jr. They ultimately cut the only scene Williams ever appeared in but it’s probably a good thing.
David and Seinfeld re-cast the role to Knight, who appeared in season 3. According to IMDb, Tim Russ also auditioned for the role of Newman.
Other ‘Seinfeld characters that changed
The change from David’s voice to the physical comedy stylings of Wayne Knight shows that David, Seinfeld, and writers didn’t always know what would work for the sitcom until they tried it. From there, they often tweaked and rewrote until any given episode fit the narrative they were happy with.
While that meant scrapping their first idea of who Newman should be, it also meant using real-life people as inspiration for other characters. George Costanza (Jason Alexander), for instance, is loosely based on David while “The Soup Nazi” is based on an actual soup maker named Al Yeganeh (who did not love his portrayal on the show).
That said, Newman wasn’t the first or last re-cast for Seinfeld. Jerry and George had different actors playing their fathers and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character, Elaine Benes isn’t even in the pilot, The Seinfeld Chronicles. All of this just goes to show that a little reworking [and yada yada yada], and you have a hit series.
In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.
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