In the 1990s, Jason Alexander was one of the biggest comedy stars on television. As Seinfeld’s George Costanza, he navigated a neurotic existence in New York, scoring seven Emmy nominations to cement his iconic status. So are we to believe Alexander when he tells the New York Post’s Page Six that he has no problem walking the Manhattan streets today without being surrounded by hordes of Seinfeld fans shouting, “The Jerk Store just called and they’re running out of you!”?
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How is that even possible? Alexander has a ready explanation. “I’ve aged badly,” he says, “that’s why people don’t bother me.”
Say what now? We’d buy the explanation if Alexander hadn’t already been stocky and balding during his most famous years. Is this supposed to be some sort of reverse-Superman situation? Take away the glasses and suddenly our modern-day Clark Kent looks completely different than his super-powered comedy alter-ego?
Or could it be the gray goatee covering Alexander’s jawline, one that George usually clenched in rage when faced with his toupee flying out the window or his father modeling a Manssiere?
The most likely answer is that Alexander was being self-effacing. “I get recognized, and people are very sweet,” he told Page Six. “And it’s generally a salute and a wave and a ‘Hey, Jason!’ kind of thing. I am very fortunate that people like my work and they seem to want to show their appreciation but I can still live my life. Not everybody can do that but I can.”
Of course, when you’re as wealthy as Alexander, who needs fans? He acknowledged that today’s most popular sitcom actors don’t get stinking rich off of residuals in the way that the Seinfeld cast did, one reason that the Screen Actors Guild is on strike. Alexander pocketed a cool million dollars an episode for Seinfeld’s last two seasons. Mix in a percentage of DVD sales — hey, those babies sold like hotcakes in the 2000s — and old George Costanza did all right for himself.
“We were extremely lucky,” Alexander says. “I guess that period of production was in the best way, a kind of a golden age for television and for television actors. … Everything, it seems like a decade after we were done, the whole model changed.”
So you can keep your screaming fans. Alexander has tens of millions of reasons to be content with incognito.