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Jason Alexander doesn’t believe in the so-called “Seinfeld curse,” but the actor, who will forever be known as George Costanza, acknowledges that being part of the beloved series has cost him.
Thanks to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ success with The New Adventures of Old Christine and Veep, the “Seinfeld curse” has largely been put to bed. In one of her many, many, many Emmy acceptance speeches, she even declared, “I’m not somebody who really believes in curses, but curse this, baby!” But for many years following Seinfeld‘s nine-season run, the narrative built steam as the three actors who excelled as Jerry Seinfeld’s sidekicks on the NBC comedy — Louis-Dreyfus, Alexander, and Michael Richards — struggled to become the face of their own successful series.
After receiving seven Emmy nominations for his legendary role, Alexander co-created and starred on ABC’s Bob Patterson, which only lasted five episodes, in 2001. His next headlining television project, CBS’ Listen Up!, was canceled after just one season in 2005. Since then, the actor has continued to steadily work in television, including reuniting with his former costars on Seinfeld creator (and Costanza inspiration) Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Yet, not necessarily by choice, he’s stayed away from taking another crack at being a sitcom lead.
“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 tells EW. “George is such an iconic image that I think some producers with other opportunities go, ‘You know what, we don’t want the George comparison. We don’t want the audience to even think about that.’ So it kept away some shows that I may have liked to do.”
Alexander also admits that the other part of the equation has been his reluctance to jump into another possible long-term commitment, especially considering his past success. “I had such an amazing experience with the Seinfeld group for nine years, just a wonderful chemistry and camaraderie, that it’s always daunting,” he reveals. “You’re speculating about five to seven years of your life and going, ‘Is this something I would want to be doing five years from now?’ So unless there’s an absolutely brilliant idea or brilliant role, I tend to chicken out or I don’t get it, one or the other.”
Well, it’s taken 12 years, but he’s finally found a role to get excited about, and it turns out, he needed to create it for himself.
Audience Network’s Hit the Road began with a debate over the relationship between David Cassidy’s and Susan Dey’s Partridge Family characters. “They probably would’ve hooked up, even if they were brother and sister, because they were both so damn attractive,” jokes Alexander. This served as the inspiration for the Swallows, a family band for a new generation.
“This kind of played a lot into what I thought would be fun,” Alexander says of the series, which he co-created. “I loved the opportunity to do something that is behaviorally outrageous, where we can use language and push the boundaries on what’s PC and what’s thought of as a loving family. The Swallows are a very loving family, but boy, are they messed up.”
In the new comedy, Alexander stars as the family’s patriarch, Ken, who believes his life should be “bigger and better and more rewarding than it actually is.” His higher aspirations have led him to cram his family of six into a tour bus to travel the country in unglamorous fashion, all in the hopes of finding fame.
Among those along for the ride are Amy Pietz (Caroline in the City) as Ken’s wife and Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws) as his antagonistic father. With another talented ensemble around him, Alexander is thrilled to be back behind the wheel. “On Listen Up, I was just an actor for hire,” he says. “So with this idea and the opportunity to be the captain of my own destiny, the alchemy of it all seemed really right.”
Hit the Road premieres Oct. 17 on Audience Network.