'Seinfeld' actress finds goofy life means good life

February 21, 1993|By Mike Duffy | Mike Duffy,Knight-Ridder News Service

The joy of being a joker is a rare and special calling.

And for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the lone girl in the boys' club that is NBC's slyly wacko "Seinfeld" ensemble, the goofy life has always been the good life.

"I remember the first time I ever got a laugh. I didn't even mean to," Ms. Louis-Dreyfus (that's Louis as in Looie) recalled during an interview in Los Angeles recently.

"It was in the third grade, in a school play. I fainted, made a strange face and got a laugh. I thought that was pretty neat."

Now it's even neater. "Seinfeld" has given Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, 31, the opportunity to strut her considerable comedy stuff. She's like Darla Hood with Spanky, Alfalfa and Buckwheat, the only female rascal, the secret estrogen weapon in the coolest comedy series on TV.

"This is the best job I've ever had," Ms. Louis-Dreyfus said, "and it's probably the best job I'll ever have."

Ms. Louis-Dreyfus plays Elaine Benes, Jerry Seinfeld's ex-girlfriend and platonic compadre. And the actress has gotten a kick out of Elaine's nutty psycho-emotional evolution over the past three years.

"I think Elaine has changed a lot since the beginning," Ms. Louis-Dreyfus said. "She's more neurotic than she was initially. She has a tendency to lose it more frequently, to be more aggressive and hostile in social situations."

Of course, when you're stuck in the middle of three hyper-wise guys like Jerry Seinfeld, George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and Mr. Bent, Kramer (Michael Richards), being aggressive is a must. Otherwise, you can get lost in the chucklehead shuffle.

When NBC moved "Seinfeld" to the deluxe spot behind "Cheers" recently, the show immediately scored its highest ratings ever -- and landed in the Nielsen survey's Top 10 shows for that week.

OK, it was No. 10 for the week. But that was a vast improvement over the drubbing "Seinfeld" had been taking opposite ABC's "Home Improvement" on Wednesday nights.

Ms. Louis-Dreyfus and her husband, actor-writer Brad Hall, who produced "Brooklyn Bridge," came out of Northwestern University and landed on "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1980s.

"The golden years," Ms. Louis-Dreyfus joked of those "SNL" days, a down and disenchanting period in the NBC late-night show's 18-year history. Back then, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus generated laughs with her "SNL" impersonations of famous pop singers like Marie Osmond and Linda Ronstadt.

Having achieved comic nirvana as a member of the "Seinfeld" cast, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus isn't anxious to move on. A few more seasons would suit her fine.

"Right now, we're having a gas, so what the hell?!"

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