The Classic Role That Danny DeVito Turned Down On Seinfeld

Danny DeVito has a long and storied career that has lasted for decades, appearing in a wide breadth of films and seemingly never taking a break from acting. Despite his highly prolific work, DeVito did reportedly turn down the role of George Costanza on "Seinfeld." Considering how iconic Jason Alexander is as Jerry Seinfeld's neurotic, self-pitying best friend, it's difficult to imagine anyone else playing the character. Still, Danny DeVito as George is one of the more interesting pieces of alternate television history to think about.

George Costanza fits an essential piece in the delicately balanced cast of "Seinfeld," his lack of self-confidence and extreme insecurities acting as a foil for Jerry's narcissism and the more carefree attitudes of Elaine Benes and Cosmo Kramer. DeVito was one of several actors that were being considered for or had auditioned for George, all of which raise questions about what the future of TV would have looked like if any one of them had gotten the part. The list includes Larry Miller, Brad Hall, Nathan Lane, David Alan Grier, Steve Buscemi, Paul Shaffer, Chris Rock, and, of course, Danny DeVito.

A George that never was

Danny DeVito had received critical acclaim for his role as the slimy, abusive Sunshine Cab Company dispatcher on the sitcom "Taxi," which ran from 1978 to 1982. The role showcased DeVito's comedic chops and got him the recognition to help catapult him to the coveted world of movies. The star's sitcom success was what probably got the casting team's attention, but moving from film to television looked like a step down at the time (a sentiment that certainly does not stand today). DeVito had just directed and starred in his hit "Throw Momma From the Train" (1987) and had appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Ivan Reitman's box office smash "Twins" (1988), so he might have been being cautious as to not jeopardize his ongoing achievements. As Alexander himself put it in an interview on "The Howard Stern Show" (and shared by E! News), "...his [Danny DeVito's] career, when we started 'Seinfeld,' would've been at its apex, so he probably didn't want to do a sidekick role."

In the long run, though, the final casting worked out for both parties. Jason Alexander's portrayal of George Costanza has gone down in TV history as one of the greats. Meanwhile, Danny DeVito finally returned to the small screen as the iconic Frank Reynolds in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," a sitcom that's considered the maniacal successor to "Seinfeld."