One of 'Seinfeld's (and TV's) great mysteries has been solved
Every time I lick an envelope, I think of Susan Ross. I’m probably not alone in thinking this, seeing how the Seinfeld character died licking a surplus of envelopes. It was an abrupt and sad ending to George Costanza’s fiancée, played by Heidi Swedberg, and its outcome hasn’t sat well with everyone for quite sometime. Jason Alexander, who played George through Seinfeld‘s run, was recently on Howard Stern’s radio show, and Stern decided to ask a tough Seinfeld question: why was Susan killed off?
Stern explained that he heard a rumor that Alexander “couldn’t stand working with her.” Alexander is quick to deny that he disliked her, but then explained that he “couldn’t play off of her,” comedically speaking.
“No. Her instincts for doing a scene—where the comedy was—and mine were always misfiring,” Alexander continues, “She would do something, and I would say, ‘OK, I see what she’s doing. I’m going to adjust to her.’ I would adjust, and it would change… It was such a disaster.”
Susan lasted three seasons and 28 episodes on the show, before Alexander just didn’t know how to play off of her, and neither did Seinfeld‘s other stars, Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It was then JLD — our JLD! — who suggested killing her off.
George and Susan got engaged on the show, but they didn’t know how to end the season. “Was George going to marry her? Was she going to leave him? Finally, there’s an episode when Elaine and Jerry have a lot of material with her. We do the week, and we [go out afterward], and they said, ‘You know what? It’s [bleep] impossible.’ Julia said, ‘Don’t you just want to kill [Susan]?’ and Larry [David, Seinfeld‘s showrunner] went, ‘Ka-bang.'”
After the radio show aired, Alexander posted a long apology to Swedberg, explaining that he means no ill against the actress, saying again and again how fond of her he is, but that, “Larry and Jerry would probably have killed me [if I wasn’t] playing exactly as they wanted.” It was a creative choice, and now he can go back and “look at those episodes and see that there was a fun relationship there between George and Susan. It works perfectly. I simply couldn’t see it or find it at the time.”
So that’s the long and the short of it about Susan’s death. Still, however, scared of licking too many envelopes.
Image via here.