Casting is key to creating a legendary TV character. The role of Gareth Keenan from The Office was originally written for a fat Northern bloke until the wiry MacKenzie Crook read for the role and Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant quickly realised the offensive lines they’d written were a hundred times funnier coming out of a skinny little guy’s mouth.
Likewise, the character of Kramer was originally meant to be a slow, half-witted type until Michael Richards read for the character with the self-assured frenetic energy that made Kramer what he was.
This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the show’s much-maligned finale, and to mark this occasion The Hollywood Reporter have dug through numerous unpublished interviews and came up with a whole bunch of tidbits, including this curious little paragraph on the casting of Kramer.
“During casting, the show tried to match that character [Larry David’s neighbour Kenny Kramer] to performers ranging from Joe Pesci, Eugene Levy and David Letterman’s band leader, Paul Shaffer. Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Shalhoub and James Cromwell came in for auditions. A character actor named Steve Vinovich eventually took the lead position, until Michael Richards surfaced. Richards brought an unmatched intensity and physicality to the role. According to cast members, Richards transformed Kramer from a slower and dumber character into one where the character considered himself ahead of all others.”
So, who is Steve Vinovich? Well:
These two pictures are what he looked like during the late ’80s.
While this is his latest headshot
He enjoyed a three-and-a-half decade run of TV and movie appearances between 1971-2006, including appearances in The Santa Clause, Everybody Loves Raymond, Cold Case, Malcolm In The Middle, JAG, Days Of Our Lives, 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, Touched By An Angel, Roseanne, Step by Step, and Cheers.
We can’t particularly see him as Kramer, but given his long varied resume, who knows what moves Vinovich could have brought to the role?