Telling Details About Jason Alexander

"It's not a lie if you believe it." Such is the strangely profound mantra from everyone's favorite '90s slacker, George Costanza. Of all the iconic sitcom characters, "Seinfeld's" George is unmatched in his meme-worthy justifications for his increasingly selfish and ludicrous behavior. The Emmy Award-winning comedy was a cultural cornerstone of its time, but the petty antics of the veritable cast of characters still resonate today, as evidenced by the intergenerational appeal it has generated since becoming available on "Netflix."

When it comes to the talents of the actor who portrayed George in all his neurotic glory, there's no shrinkage to be found. The character may have been a narcissist who felt no shame in the prospect of, say, hastening his parents' death to pocket some inheritance money or asking his fiancée for change as her childhood vacation home burns down, but Alexander couldn't be more different. A veteran of the Broadway stage, Alexander has achieved considerable influence and success since he first rose to prominence in the late '80s, receiving multiple Emmy nominations as well as winning a Tony award. Suffice it to say, this is one guy who has no need to piggyback on the achievements of his alter ego, Art Vandelay, to impress others.

So, drape yourself in velvet and grab a chicken salad on rye, as we delve into telling details about Jason Alexander. If you take everything he's accomplished in his entire life and condense it down into one article, it looks pretty impressive.

His childhood was straight out of Glee

Jason Alexander was born in 1959 and was raised in Livingston, New Jersey. His birth name is actually Jay Scott Greenspan, but as he explained to Mental Floss, he changed his moniker due to another actor called Jay Scott being registered with the actors' union. 

As a child, the actor was painfully shy. But he came out of his shell thanks to the support of the theater kids at school, who soon claimed him as their own, per Columbus Underground. "If you were ever either a part of school theater or you watched 'Glee,' you know that the minute you open your mouth and you don't completely suck, you are everybody's best friend," he explained. "... So, initially, it wasn't the performing so much as the community of performers that I gravitated to. But, then I just found over time that I liked this." As he revealed to the Archive of American Television, being welcomed into the arty community made all the difference for the shy youngster, as he could hide his timidity behind fictional characters.

After graduating high school, he attended Boston University in the late '70s but decided to drop out when he started getting professional acting gigs, per The Crimson. "That's when my college advisors said, 'We're teaching you how to have a career. You have a career. Why would you come back?'" he said. "And I was very lucky and just kept working steadily and never came back."

Jason Alexander's epic marriage proposal

After dropping out of college, Jason Alexander fell in love with Daena Title, per The Crimson. During an appearance on "The Late Late Show with James Corden," the actor explained that he feared Title was out of his league, but besotted, he asked her out. "I had $1,000 to my name ... I took out $1,000 in cash. I went, 'I don't know what she's gonna want to do, but I'm gonna do it,'" he sweetly recalled. "We went to a restaurant that no longer exists in New York ... Our waiter for the evening was Bruce Willis and our bartender was John Goodman." Three weeks later, the young lovers moved in together. After several rejected marriage proposals, Alexander stole Title's heart by purchasing a billboard in Times Square that read, "Daena, I love you. Please marry me."

Forty years later, the couple, who have two sons, are still going strong. Sadly, their marriage has endured some hardships. Per Us Weekly, Title is a cancer survivor. Moreover, her cousin, the director, Stacy Title, was diagnosed with the degenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In 2019, the filmmaker was determined to make one last movie, "Walking Time Bomb," with Alexander enthusiastically hopping on board. "When Stacy goes, 'Do you want to be part of something I'm doing?'... I go, 'Yeah,'" he told Vulture. Sadly, Stacy's health deteriorated. Paralyzed, she lost the ability to speak and was placed on a ventilator, and the project was never completed. She died in 2021, aged 56, per Deadline.

He was never interested in a TV career

Aged 20, Jason Alexander made his Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along," per Columbus Underground. As the actor told The Crimson, the musical theater legend was so impressed with Alexander, that he pinpointed the young actor as the highlight of an otherwise dissatisfying show. The "Seinfeld" star recalled that in his book, "Look, I Made a Hat," Sondheim wrote, "At age 20, [Alexander] played a middle-aged man better than anybody I know."

Broadway remains Alexander's first love. As such, he always assumed he'd have an illustrious theater career, particularly in musicals, as opposed to acting on the big and small screens (though he did win a Tony in 1989). "I was singing looooong before I was doing George," he told The Enquirer. "All the film and TV stuff is just a happy surprise and a happy accident, but it's not what I had imagined."

Speaking with the Detroit Metro Times, he noted that "Seinfeld" aficionados are often floored to discover that he can actually sing. This is due to his infamously terrible singing in the Season 8 "Seinfeld" episode "The Susie." There, he gives a nasally, monotone rendition of his answering machine message to get out of breaking up with his girlfriend. "It was remarkably hard to sing poorly," he said. "I mean, you can do it egregiously wrong and just be terrible. The trick is to be just bad enough that it looks real."

How Jason Alexander got the role of George

Prior to "Seinfeld," Jason Alexander didn't think of himself as being a funny guy. But, much like George Costanza, the actor found himself floundering in his professional life in the late '80s, feeling bereft of direction, per Columbus Underground. "Comedy came late for me in life," he revealed. "I had gotten all the way to college without thinking of myself as being particularly funny or being involved in comedy."

Shortly after appearing in "Pretty Woman," where he played a repugnant villain, he found out that Castle Rock Entertainment was looking to cast actors for a new sitcom. Accordingly, Alexander auditioned with many other actors, but to make his performance stand out, he decided to don a pair of glasses and adopt a nasal New York accent. "I affected, essentially, a Woody Allen impersonation," he joked during an Archive of American Television interview. This affectation is particularly apparent in the early seasons of "Seinfeld."

Alexander assumed he'd bombed the audition. However, a week later, he ended up getting a call asking him to fly to Los Angeles and test for the network. When he arrived in California, he noted that the only other person auditioning was Jerry Seinfeld's bestie, Larry Miller (who later played Jerry's doorman), leading him to believe that he had no chance of securing the role. However, by the time his return flight had landed, he received another call, telling him, "You got it. You're George."

He isn't friends with his Seinfeld colleagues

The hilarity and originality of "Seinfeld" lay in the fact that the quartet of pals had no affection whatsoever for each other — friends in name only. It seems that life imitated art behind the scenes. Jason Alexander is the first to admit that he's not particularly close to the people he acted alongside for a decade. In 1999, he told The New York Times that he didn't keep up with his former co-stars. However, it wasn't the result of bad blood between the "Seinfeld" cast — they simply run in different circles. ”We don't communicate that much. What really bonded us was the work ... when we were making the show, we were all never really best friends.” 

The years haven't brought the former colleagues closer, either. Speaking with Columbus Underground two decades later, Alexander confirmed that he rarely chats to his "Seinfeld" peers. "I go a year ... at a time without any real communication with or from the core cast," he admitted. Although he appeared in Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" and was reunited with his castmates in "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Season 7, his communication with his co-stars ends there. 

In spite of that, in 2017, Alexander revealed that he'd reached out to support Julia Louis-Dreyfus following her breast cancer diagnosis. Three years later, the twosome teamed up for an Instagram Live reunion to help raise funds for those affected financially by the Coronavirus pandemic, per People

Activism is paramount for Jason Alexander

Shock horror — George Costanza actually cares about other people. Okay, maybe not, but the actor who plays him certainly does. Not unlike fellow proud democrat, Larry David, Jason Alexander has been passionate about politics for decades. As George would say, "We're living in a society!" In 1992, he told the Los Angeles Times that he was fed up with George H.W. Bush's administration. "Nowadays, there's a feeling that Washington, politics ... it's not a government of the people," he said. Famously, Alexander was also involved in a feud with Mitt Romney after the Republican quoted George Costanza in a speech, per Backstage

As E! News notes, the actor is a vocal proponent of gun control, penning impassioned tweets in the wake of U.S. gun violence. Additionally, he's also active in the organization OneVoice, which advocates for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, per The Crimson. "The vast majority of people in both Palestine and Israel were moderates," he explained. "... I have been to that part of the world often. I'm intrigued and deeply affected by the people there, on both sides."

The actor-turned-activist also finds political pals in unlikely places. In an interview with Mental Floss, he revealed that he had immense respect for the reformed white nationalist, TJ Leyden, and considered him a good friend. "[He] risked his life teaching young people the subversive, destructive power of hate and the redemptive and miraculous power of decency, education, responsibility, and love," he said.

Jason Alexander's career has been an illusion

George Costanza exploited all manner of subterfuge in order to maintain the "like, twenty" lies he was living, making him a crafty magician of sorts. In portraying George, Jason Alexander utilized his own brand of trickery. When the actor was 12, he was determined to become a professional magician. Accordingly, he went to magic camp, per Archive of American Television. "I wanted to be the magic," he said regarding his dream of becoming a close-up magician — one who performs tricks in front of people, making it more challenging to maintain the illusion. He also considered becoming an escape artist, but soon realized he wasn't quite brave enough to risk his life for his art.

As Alexander revealed to The Crimson, he studied the craft seriously, but his dreams were eventually shot down by his mentor, who explained that his physique was not suitable for a career as a close-up magician. "Whenever I try to palm a standard playing card you can always see a corner peeking out from one side or the other," he explained. "I also have short stubby fingers, too, and you need long ones for coin manipulation. The observation was: This is not going to work for you." Eventually, he realized that acting itself is the ultimate magic trick. "I went, 'Wait a minute, this whole thing's an illusion ... Nothing is real,'" he told the Archive of American Television. "It's all a magic trick. And I went, 'I could do that.'"

... But he couldn't quite break the Seinfeld curse

Following the end of "Seinfeld" in 1998, the principal cast floundered for years and struggled to score another hit show — a phenomenon that has been dubbed the Seinfeld curse. While Julia Louis-Dreyfus has undoubtedly broken the supposed curse with her multiple Emmy-winning turn as Selina Meyer on "Veep," her co-stars haven't been quite as lucky.

In 2004, Alexander starred in another sitcom, "Listen Up," depicting a conceited talk show host. As The New York Times opined, even without the supposed curse at play, the lackluster show had a lot of problems, and it was canceled after just one season. In 2017, he created and starred in the ill-fated comedy, "Hit the Road," which saw him playing an ambitious father who takes his family on a road trip across the country. Discussing the project with Entertainment Weekly, Alexander was keenly aware that the Seinfeld curse looms large, but had a philosophical take on the matter. "If there is a Seinfeld curse, and I don't really believe that there is one, but the curse so to speak is that the show is still out there in such a profound way," he reflected.

Since then, he's guest starred in Seth MacFarlane's "The Orville" as Olix (good luck recognizing him under all that reptilian makeup, though). Additionally, in 2019, he had a standout cameo in "The Marvelous Maisel," depicting a playwright whose career had been curtailed by the Hollywood blacklist.

Jason Alexander regrets how he treated Susan

Of all the odious things the "Seinfeld" characters have done, nothing comes close to George inadvertently killing his fiancée, Susan, with his parsimony, and feeling pretty good about it. Legend has long had it that Heidi Swedberg's character, Susan, was killed off because Jason Alexander found her to be insufferable. Indeed, the actor contributed heavily to this rumor by trashing Swedberg in the press. In 2015, he told "The Howard Stern Show," "I couldn't figure out how to play off of her. Her instincts for doing a scene, where the comedy was, and mine were always misfiring." He explained that, together, they could never make a scene work to his liking, apparently due to a palpable lack of chemistry. Then, one day, a co-star came up with a solution for the character. "Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] actually said, 'Don't you want to just kill her?'" Alexander recalled. "And Larry [David] went, 'Ka-bang!'"

On Twitter, the actor later said that he felt terrible about his remarks and admitted that he regretted the way he treated Swedberg. "In telling this story, it sounds like we are putting a heavy burden on Heidi," he wrote. "I, personally, am not ... She was generous and gracious and I am so mad at myself for retelling this story in any way that would diminish her." He blamed his own insecurities as an actor on his failure to develop chemistry with Swedberg. "To Heidi, I personally apologize. You are a sweetheart," he added.

There may never be a Seinfeld reboot

When the hotly anticipated "Frasier" revival was announced as being greenlit in 2022, fans couldn't help but wonder if other iconic '90s sitcoms were going to get the reboot treatment. Unfortunately for "Seinfeld" devotees, a revival is most likely never going to happen. Although the immensely popular Twitter account Modern Seinfeld gives us a glimpse into what the sitcom would look like in the post-Tinder age (Kramer catfishing himself, anyone?), Jason Alexander has been unwavering in his aversion to the idea — fleeting "Curb Your Enthusiasm" reunion aside.

The actor explained that the key to "Seinfeld"'s success lay in the arrested development of the protagonists. "There was something about the immature grownup in their 30s and 40s ... I don't know how charming it is in your 50s and 60s," he told the Detroit Metro Times. "I think it just becomes pathetic. Why can't these people get their act together?" He reiterated this stance during an appearance on the Australian radio network, Triple M. "As a betting man, I would bet against it, because [Larry and Jerry] tend to like to set a trend, not follow a trend," he explained.

Okay, so we may never get to see George writing a bad Yelp review out of spite or Elaine stalking a co-worker on Instagram, but perhaps that's for the best. As time capsules go, the petty dilemmas of the "Seinfeld" characters remain timeless, perhaps even more so in the age of Twitter spats about nothing.

How Jason Alexander wants to be remembered

Few will forget the comedic stylings of "Seinfeld" any time soon. As demonstrated by his prevalence in the realm of memedom, George is arguably the most legendary of all the show's idiosyncratic characters. But unlike his former character, Jason Alexander is a mere mortal, and he's thus cognizant of the importance of embracing this stardom while he can.

Speaking with Mental Floss, Alexander admitted that he's grown humble in recent years. Regarding fans hollering out "George" everywhere he goes, the actor mused that the phenomenon isn't quite as pervasive as it once was. "After I turned around all smug-like a few times to discover they were calling someone named George, I learned my lesson," he conceded.

Subsequently, as he reaches his mid-60s, Alexander has become meditative with regard to what he hopes his lasting legacy will look like. "Joy, for me, is what I hope [for] in my career," he reflected to Columbus Underground. "When my career is done and everyone looks at it ... I hope that even when I've done stuff that might have been frightening or if I were involved in a project that might have seemed silly or seemed low-brow ... that there was a sense of me wanting to lift the audience in some way." If George's life was the complete opposite of everything he wanted it to be, then Alexander's quest to make people happy is "the switch" that his onscreen alter ego so desperately strived for.