When you see Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan, you immediately think of Jerry’s parents, Morty and Helen Seinfeld of Del Boca Vista West, Fla. But there’s so much more to them than beltless trench coats and NASA pens. Did you know that Martin played a Broadway Hermann Goring in The Producers? Or that Sheridan shacked up with James Dean in the ’50s? (She’s writing a book about their ”wonderful, funny, wild affair.”) Today, their lives are more staid: Martin, 70, commutes between Hollywood and his home in Rhinebeck, N.Y., (he has two grown kids). Sheridan, 69, lives in L.A. with her husband, jazz trumpeter Dale Wales (they have one daughter). While Morty and Helen won’t let Jerry pay for long-distance calls, Martin and Sheridan gladly accepted EW’s.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What makes the Seinfelds tick?
BARNEY MARTIN: Morty’s whole drive is to take care of his family. He’s constantly thinking about how to save the kid money.
LIZ SHERIDAN: Helen is a traffic cop. She lets things happen, sort of like Jerry does with his three friends who whirl around him.
EW: How has being on this show affected your career?
LS: Almost sideways. It’s been difficult for Barney and I to get other work because we’re so associated with the Seinfelds.
BM: If I play a priest or something, they’ll say, ‘Hey, that’s Morty Seinfeld playing the priest!’ In that sense, it’s hurt me, but I wouldn’t change it for all the money in China.
EW: Do people recognize you?
BM: The recognition I get from this show and I’ve been on a lot of shows has been unbelievable. I went to Boca Raton [Fla.], and I wore that T-shirt they gave me [on the show], ”No. 1 Dad.” I had 36 people around me!
LS: I have to put lipstick on every time I go out of the house. People yell at me going by in cars. I love that, and any actor who tells you they don’t is lying.
EW: What’s your relationship with Jerry like are you parental?
BM: Absolutely. He’s a hard worker and a great guy. I would love to have him as my real son, although my real son is a wonderful guy.
LS: I love him dearly. I’ve told him that. He loves us, too. I mean, we don’t hang out, but I don’t think he does with anybody on the show.
EW: How do you get along with the rest of the cast?
BM: Jason, Michael, and Julia are marvelous actors. Jerry’s not the actor the rest are, and he knows that. But he’s a hell of a leader.
LS: Nobody had any children when we started — everybody was uncluttered. Now Julia’s so busy, she hardly has time, but when we see each other, we hug.
EW: How do you feel about the show going off the air?
LS: Very sad. I dread the last bow. It’s an immense thing. It’s like having your picture on a stamp.
BM: Unlike being a plumber — where you hate to go to work because you never know what you’re going to find in the pipes — going to work on the Seinfeld set was a joy.