George Costanza's fiancee Susan was unceremoniously killed off at the end of Season 7 by licking too much low-quality glue, and rumors later swirled that she met her demise because Jason Alexander couldn't stand working with Heidi Swedberg, the actress who played her. On today's episode of “The Howard Stern Show,” Jason Alexander set the record straight by explaining that, while he loved Swedberg on a personal level, their on-set chemistry was “a disaster.”
“I love her. She's a terrific girl. I love her. 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. And she would do something and I would go, okay, I see what she's gonna do, I'm gonna adjust to her. And then I would adjust. And then it would change!
“So I had done three episodes with her and Larry calls me up at the beginning of the season and says, 'Good news! I got a great arc for you this season. You're gonna get engaged!' I said, 'oh it's great, who do I get engaged to?' He said, 'Susan.' And I went, 'oh great, who's playing George?' Cause it was such a disaster.
“What Heidi brought to the character is we could do the most horrible things to her, and the audience was still n my side. …She wasn't playing a bitchy character or anything, but they knew it wasn't a good fit. …I kept saying, 'I'm going out of my mind you guys, you're killing me. I can't understand how to play off of this girl. I'm sure that the stuff is not working, it can't be!'…I was the only actor doing scenes with her! And then finally — they didn't know how the season was gonna end, was George gonna marry her? Was she gonna leave him? What was gonna happen? So finally they do an episode where Elaine and Jerry have a lot of material with her. They do the week…and they go, you know what? It's fucking impossible. It's impossible.' And Julia actually said, 'I know, it's just, don't you wanna just kill her?' And Larry went, 'kebang!'
“But she is…Heidi is the sweetest…it was just the way I come at stuff and the way she came at stuff is just…”
Okay, I have to admit: this is a great, juicy tidbit and the kind Stern is known for making his interview subjects comfortable enough to spill. But at the same time, you have to feel for Swedberg here; it seems in bad taste to slam an actor who's so much lower on the totem pole — particularly if she is, as Alexander claims, a good person. The way he constantly refers to her as a “girl” is a little cringe-y too. Personally I thought she did a fine job in that role.
Listen to the full clip below and draw your own conclusions.